Migrants handed 1m a week for children back home as thousands of British families are stripped of THEIR child benefitCash is awarded despite the children living in another countryCritics blast taxpayer cash going to dependents in countries like PolandSituation will worsen when Romanians and Bulgarians allowed UK jobs
00:03 GMT, 4 February 2013
08:04 GMT, 4 February 2013
Cash migration: The money is sent to families in Poland, Ireland, France, Slovakia and many other nations
Britain is giving EU immigrants 1million a week in handouts for children who live abroad.
The payments include child benefit – which was stripped from more than one million British families last month.
The bill is likely to rise still further when Romanians and Bulgarians get free access to the UK jobs market on January 1.
Critics said it was ‘absurd’ to carry on sending money to countries such as Poland when families were losing out at home.
Overall, there are 24,082 child benefit awards currently being made, in respect of 40,171 children, according to a study.
EU citizens are also pocketing child tax credits on behalf of youngsters who are living overseas.
It costs the taxpayer an astonishing 55million a year to fund this system, which is only replicated in four other EU countries. The other 22 nations require the child to be resident in order to qualify.
UK payments relate to cases where migrants have moved to Britain, but left their children at home. When they arrive in the UK, they register with HM Revenue & Customs for the benefit.
The money is then paid direct to them, so it can be sent home. The children do not have to live in the UK or even have visited.
Migrants choose to claim the money from the UK government – rather than in equivalent schemes at home – because the payments are much higher.
In Poland, child benefit is around 5 a week. In Britain, it is 20.30 a week for the first child and 13.40 for every other child.
Two-thirds of the children – 25,659 – for whom child benefit is paid are based in Poland. Child benefit paid for children living overseas costs the taxpayer 36.6million per year, while child tax credit costs 18.6million per year.
A town on the outskirts of Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgaria and Romania are relatively poor, and families will be attracted to the UK for jobs and benefits
The figures emerged in a report by
the campaign group Migrationwatch, which was based on Treasury figures
given in a parliamentary written answer.
Last night, chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘It is absurd that child benefit is paid to children who do not even live in the UK.
'At a time that UK taxpayers are being asked to tighten their belts, the Government is paying out over 1million per week to support children in other countries where costs are, in any case, often much lower.
The report will re-ignite anger over the Government's cuts to child benefit.
‘The majority of EU countries have the good sense to ensure that the child in question must be resident in that country in order to qualify and it is about time the UK did the same.’
The report will re-ignite anger over the Government’s cuts to child benefit.
Ministers ruled that any family in which one person earns over 60,000 should lose the payment altogether, while they are cut on a sliding scale for those earning between 50,000 and 60,000.
But families in which two earners both receive up to 50,000 did not lose out.
Critics said it penalised the traditional family, where one parent stays at home to raise children.
In Opposition, the Tories wanted to end the payments to migrants, but they have carried on paying the benefit while in power.
The party’s then Treasury spokesman, Philip Hammond, said in 2009: ‘With Britain facing a debt crisis and the Government’s child poverty strategy in tatters, it beggars belief that Gordon Brown is continuing to send millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to children who don’t even live in this country.’
From the end of this year, almost 30million residents from the two former Eastern Bloc countries will be entitled to live and work freely in the UK.
Any migrant who moves here from either country will be entitled to claim child benefit and child tax credits.
Treasury Minister Sajid Javid said Britain was obliged to pay child tax benefit and child tax credit under EU regulations.