Deja vu all over again all over again

Back in August, I blogged about some misleading stats from the Mail in 'Why the figures don't matter'. They were about the level of benefits supposedly claimed by Eastern Europeans in the Mail article 'Benefits bill for eastern European migrants hits £125m' and included loads of problems.

A couple of days ago, I posted 'Deja vu all over again', about how some stats that appear every three months get warmed over and chucked out by the Mail as if they're fresh. Today, we have the stats from 'Why the figures don't matter' as they appear three months later in 'Benefit claims by Eastern Europeans double in one year to £145m'. Guess what? Since they measure the total number of benefit claims since accession and don't count the number who come off benefits or leave the country, the figures are higher! I, for one, am shocked.

The Mail's picture for the story. Wonder what part of Eastern Europe the 5 guys on the right come from.

This story's a winner for the hack involved (none other than James Slack), since the total number of Eastern Europeans who have ever claimed benefits since accession will always rise and can never fall. All he has to do every three months is multiply the number of claimants by the amount they would be getting if they all still received the same benefits - even assuming that every Eatern European who ever claimed jobseeker's Allowance never found a job -and hey presto! He can pretend that's the annual cost!

Except it isn't. And not just for the reasons I've already gone through.

Although Slack doesn't include claims that are instantly disallowed (unlike measures for the numbers of Eastern Europeans in the country in which he includes just under 30,000 people whose applications were refused), he includes everyone whose application wasn't instantly dismissed on the grounds of failing Habitual Residence Tests, but were passed on to the next set of tests to see if they were eligible. A number of the people counted will never have received benefits in the first place. They've just lived here long enough to get them if they qualify. The full Accession Monitoring Report is here.

Remember - real money that you can spend in shops. No cricket bats. No justice.


septicisle said...

On a somewhat similar note, I finally received a reply from HMRC on child benefit and foreign workers receiving it even if their children are abroad. This is it in full:

Thank you for your e-mail of 17 September about Child Benefit. Your e-mail has been forwarded to HM Revenue & Customs and I have been asked to reply. I apologise for the delay in doing so.

You ask if foreign workers are entitled to claim Child Benefit for their children, even if they do not reside with them in this country.

The main purpose of Child Benefit is to support families living in the United Kingdom. In this regard, the general rules for this benefit do not provide for them to be paid in respect of children who reside outside the United Kingdom. However, these general rules are supplemented by the co-ordinating rules in European Community Regulations which the United Kingdom has applied since it joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1973. The Regulations protect the acquired social security rights of European Economic Area (EEA) workers and their families moving within the Community.

The Regulations have detailed rules that determine which social security scheme a worker should contribute to, and which State has responsibility for the payment of family benefits. In general, it provides that the worker pays into the social security scheme where the work takes place and that State is responsible for the payment of family benefits. If entitlement to family benefits arises in more than one Member State, the Regulations contain priority rules to determine who has responsibility for paying. More detailed information relating to these Community rules can be found in leaflet SA 29 “Your social security insurance, benefits and healthcare rights in the European Economic Area”, published by the Department for Work and Pensions and available from its website at www.dwp.gov.uk/international/sa29. Similarly, the thousands of UK nationals who live in another EEA country also benefit from these rules in a wide number of areas.

The vast majority of Eastern European migrants, who were the subject of recent media publications, are in employment, paying UK taxes and National Insurance contributions and in many cases in hard-to-fill jobs in sectors with high levels of vacancies.

When a claim is made under the EC Regulations, there are long-standing checks in place to prevent fraud. For example, the relevant authorities in the family’s country of residence are required to confirm the identity and address of the children in the claim. In addition, the person claiming can be required to provide the original birth or adoption certificate of the child in support of their claim.

I hope that you will find this helpful.

Yours sincerely
Keeley Spindler
Ministerial Correspondence Unit
2nd Floor, Ferrers House
PO Box 38
Castle Meadow Road

In other words then, the EU rules mean that anyone in a EU state can claim the equivalent of child benefit if they're working there and paying tax, even if their children aren't living with them. It's typical tabloid humbug.

merkur said...

You do realise that eventually you'll just end up cutting and pasting your previous year's blog posts to save time, don't you?

Anyway, keep up the good work. I'm finding your blog a useful resource for shooting down similarly crappy arguments about "immigration threats" on other blogs.