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What benefits can EU migrants claim?

EU migrants will soon have to wait four years to receive in-work benefits under new reforms set out by David Cameron as part of his EU negotiations.

But what are the current rules? And how much money can they expect to lose out on?

Around 45% of EU migrants are estimated to be claiming benefits after living here for four years. Credit: PA

Is it easy for EU migrants to claim benefits in the UK?

No. Tougher rules came into force in March 2015 stating new EU migrants who arrive in the UK cannot claim any benefits until they have started work here.

They must also have lived in the UK for three months before putting in any benefit claims.

What benefits are they currently entitled to claim?

Once they have been living in the country for three months they are entitled to claim:

  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credits

They used to be allowed to claim Housing Benefit but this has now been scrapped.

Migrant workers look for jobs in a shop window. Credit: PA

How much can they claim?

The current weekly rate of Jobseeker's Allowance is £57.90 for a person under 25 and £73.10 for those over 25.

Parents can claim a weekly child benefit allowance of £20.70 for their eldest child and £13.70 a week for additional children.

Child Tax Credits are capped at £2,780 a year but may be less depending on the claimant's financial situation.

No one claiming benefits is able to claim more than £500 a week.

The only benefit working EU migrants will be able to claim for four years is child benefit. Credit: PA

How much is the government paying out in EU migrant benefits now?

Figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, obtained by The Times (£), reveal the government paid out:

  • £30 million in child benefit in 2014 to families with children living abroad - of these, two third of claimants were Polish

As of February 2015, DWP figures show there were 113,960 EU nationals claiming benefits - an increase of 21,870 since 2010.

Of these:

  • 21,460 were claiming Jobseeker's allowance
  • 17,000 were claiming employment and support and incapacity benefits
  • 6,000 were claiming carer's allowance
  • 4,000 were claiming lone parent allowance
  • 3,900 were claiming disability allowance
The new reforms are not to set to put migrants off coming to the UK. Credit: PA

How does this compare to what they will get under the new reforms?

Further Department of Work and Pension figures, obtained by The Times (£), show the difference between what an EU migrant arriving in the UK today would receive compared to after the emergency brake.

EU Migrant arriving today :

  • Working tax credit: £1,370 a year for over-25s who earn less than £9,850
  • Child tax credit: £6,605 a year for one child or £9,495 for two if they are working at least 16 hours a week with an income of less than £9,850
  • Child benefit: £1,076 a year for the eldest child if earning less than £50,000
  • Housing benefit: Up to £13,520 a year

EU migrant arriving after the emergency brake:

  • Working tax credit: 0 for up to four years
  • Child tax credit: 0 for up to four years
  • Housing benefit: 0 for up to four years
  • Child benefit: £1,076 a year for the eldest child if earning less than £50,000 a year

How long can migrants currently stay on benefits for?

EU migrants are allowed to claim benefits for three months but after that they must undergo a 'genuine prospect of work' test.

If they do not have an imminent job offer they will lose their benefits and their right to reside in the UK as a jobseeker.

David Cameron wants the backing of European Council president Donald Tusk to curb Britain's benefits bill. Credit: PA

Are there any other benefits tests they have to pass?

Yes. Under EU law, some migrants may be required to pass a 'habitual residence test' if they want to claim means-tested benefits.

This is to prove they have the right to live in the UK and are intending to make it their home for the time being.

Even if they show they have a right to reside, migrants may still need to show that they are habitually a resident in order to qualify for benefits.

Why have the rules for EU migrants changed?

The new rules are part of the government's long-term economic plan to protect the benefits system.

They also want to ensure EU migrants come to the country for the right reasons and contribute to the economy.

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