Why focusing on benefit tourism will actually reduce public faith in the immigration system

Left Foot Forward has an insightful review of David Cameron’s speech on migration. It highlights that many of the proposed measures such as stopping people claiming child benefits for children living outside the UK. But there’s a fundamental mismatch between the limited scale of benefit tourism and what Cameron claims to be able to achieve by tackling it:

It isn’t credible to say numbers are the problem and then tout a benefit crackdown as the solution

This goes back to the first point: if you want to bring down the numbers coming to Britain, and if very few of those coming to the country are claiming benefits, then it follows that a crackdown on benefit tourism isn’t going to significantly reduce immigration. In the long-run this kind of rhetoric increases public distrust in politicians: the public may have a slightly distorted interpretation of how many migrants do claim benefits but they aren’t stupid: they do understand that people overwhelming come to the UK to work.

Crackdowns on ‘benefit tourism’ have become almost a bi-monthly phenomenon; and yet the number of migrants entering the country continues to rise. At some point the public will put two and two together. Nick Clegg is right to say that ‘over-promising and under-delivering’ does damage to public confidence in the immigration system.

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