May 29, 2014
UK taxpayers are spending £30million-a-year sending child benefit to families who live abroad across the European Union.
David Cameron has admitted it is ‘impossible’ to stop the cash being exported each year by migrant workers whose families are spread across the continent.
But in the wake of the UKIP triumph in the European and local elections, he faces growing pressure from Tory MPs to act now, with calls for a bar on claiming welfare for up to five years after arriving in Britain.
New figures show that last year the British taxpayer paid child benefit to 20,400 families, covering 34,268 children.
Child benefit is paid at £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for every other child, regardless of parental income. It means the total bill for children living overseas is up to £30million-a-year.
There has been a slight fall since 2012, when an extra 3,682 families claimed child benefit abroad.
Almost two-thirds of the families are in Poland, claiming for 22,093 children. People in the UK are also sending child benefit to 1,231 families in Ireland for 2,505 children.
A further 1,215 in Lithuania, 797 in Latvia, 789 in France, 692 in Slovakia and 600 in Spain are all receiving child benefit from the UK Treasury.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has capitalised on warnings that the UK cannot control its own borders or welfare system while it remains a member of the European Union.
Mr Farage said the Government’s three-month ban on migrants claiming benefits in Britain was not long enough. He said there should be a five year block on allowing immigrants to get any benefits.
He said: “We must be completely mad to be giving people from Eastern Europe in-work benefits.’
Mr Cameron has vowed to tackle the problem as part of his plan to claw back powers from Brussels before staging an in-out EU referendum before 2017.
But he admits that until his negotiations begin, after the 2015 election, it is virtually impossible to stop the money being sent abroad.