06 March 2013

Iain Duncan Smith warns of UK immigration 'crisis'

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The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said Britain faces a 'crisis' if measures designed to limit UK immigration from Romania and Bulgaria are not introduced.

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Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has warned of a 'crisis'.

Romania and Bulgaria will both accede to the EU at the end of the year and gain access to the Union's free movement directive. This has led many to believe thousands will choose to move to the UK, placing a burden on social services.

Mr Duncan Smith has formed part of a Cabinet-level committee chaired by Deputy PM Nick Clegg designed to find ways to discourage Romanians and Bulgarians from moving to the UK without breaching European law.

Speaking to the Commons over the Government's plans, Mr Smith said his department was working to 'tighten up' what benefits new migrants were entitled to.

"There is somewhat of a crisis over this. Some people want to come here solely to claim benefits," said the minister.

The Government's ability to limit immigration is hindered by European law; an approach Mr Duncan Smith said was 'very damaging to the concept of an EU that works for all its members'.

Mr Duncan Smith's department is reportedly considering ensuring immigrants have to wait for a year after settling in the UK before they are eligible to claim benefits, including access to health care - although emergency care and ante-natal treatment are likely to be exempted.

However, any restrictions brought in are likely to be dependent on residency rather than nationality, meaning many British passport holders will also be required to prove their entitlement.

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