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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Cable gets a twisted pair

Vince Cable objects to the government's planned range of measures to toughen welfare rules for EU migrants, including:

  • New migrants not getting out-of-work benefits for the first three months 
  • Payments being stopped after six months unless the claimant has a "genuine" chance of a job 
  • New migrants not being able to claim housing benefit immediately 
  • Deportation of those caught begging or sleeping rough, with no return within a year 
  • Quadrupling fines for employers not paying the minimum wage
According to Mr Cable and his boss Clegg, these measures would be illegal and impossible to implement. Well not quite, unless you hadn't noticed Mr Cable, you are a minister in the government and the law is whatever the government (that is you) manages to push through parliament. So if you don't like the measures proposed by the rest of the cabinet you can always resign.  Oh but that would mean losing your ministerial salary and chauffeured car.

As for "impossible to implement", what can be difficult about not giving benefits to people who are currently not entitled to them?  Rather than taking away a right that is already established, the government simply has to deem that certain categories of immigrants are only entitled to receive benefits under tighter conditions than UK citizens, but less stringent conditiond than those from outside the EU.

As with most Lib Dem policy statements (as picked up by the BBC) this is no more than willie-waving. As Mr cable told Andrew Marr: "There is very little evidence of benefit tourism from people coming from eastern Europe. All the evidence suggests that they put far more into the economy in terms of tax than they take out in benefits."

In which case, then why is Cable making a fuss?

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