Welcome to the original English language Poland and Polish discussion group board. This message forum is a place where English-speaking Poles, foreigners (expats) living in Poland, and anyone with a genuine interest in Poland can discuss and read the views of others concerning Poland. Subjects include: Polish news and current affairs; Life in Poland; politics; genealogy research; Polish culture and history; advice and tips on visiting Poland; Polish property and investment issues. The aim of our group is to increase awareness of wonderful Poland using the English language and allow and foster the honest debate and exchange of opinions on anything vaguely related to Poland and Polish - positive, negative and/or neutral! To state the obvious: all opinions and views expressed on this site are solely those of their respective authors and are not necessarily those of anyone else! Messages consisting of ads will be deleted.
£33m child benefit paid to foreign children who live abroad
British child benefit paid to foreign children living abroad has rocketed by an astonishing 72 per cent in just nine months, to £33million a year.
Most of the money is going on 36,000 children still in Poland whose parents are cashing in on European rules that let them claim benefits in the UK after working and paying taxes here for a year.
Ministers were plunged into a new immigration row last night by the figures, only shortly after proposed tax rises for low-income British families sparked intense controversy.
Is this a waste of taxpayers' money? Tell us below
The huge bill for British taxpayers began with the EU’s enlargement in 2004, leading to 800,000 workers from the new member countries moving to the UK.
But it has escalated dramatically as word has spread among Polish communities in Britain, coupled with Polish-language newspapers publishing guides on how to claim the benefit.
The new figures, released to Conservative Treasury spokesman Philip Hammond, reveal that in the nine months to March this year the number of workers from EU accession states claiming child benefit rose from 14,000 to 24,000.
For Poland, the rise in six months was 43 per cent.
Even larger amounts are paid out to East European workers in child tax credits, but the Government has refused to put a figure on that liability.
The UK benefit is so attractive because it is £977 a year for the first child and £652 for young siblings – as opposed to £160 for each child in Poland.
But the reciprocal agreement under European law means Britons working in that country get only the £160 from the Warsaw government.
Mr Hammond said: "At a time when child poverty is rising, child-benefit money is being siphoned off to children who don’t even live here.
"The Government has no way of checking if these claims are genuine.
"This is yet another example of how Gordon Brown has lost control of Government spending."
Opposition MPs yesterday demanded the Government "get a grip" on the runaway payouts.
But lawyers say the only answer is to negotiate a new deal among the 27 European Union countries.
The arrangement is a hangover from the EU’s historic principle of free movement of labour.
The Home Office yesterday referred questions to Revenue & Customs, where a spokesman said: "Under EU rules, EU nationals living and working in the UK can claim child benefit for any dependent children, even if they live in another member state."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of pressure group MigrationWatch, said: "It is ridiculous that we pay child benefit at British rates to be claimed in countries where the cost of living is one quarter of ours.
"Having failed to foresee this, the Government should now renegotiate the requirement so that this benefit is tied to the cost of living."
The row comes as Daniel Kawczynski, a Conservative MP of Polish descent, plans to make a call in Parliament this week for a new bank holiday "to celebrate the contribution of Polish citizens to Great Britain since 1940
hmmm I don't agree with the Polish bank holiday idea - (although I would like another bank holiday). Bank holidays in the UK should be to do with British commemorations of course.
I don't think the Poles are responsible for a £33m seepage of child benefit. The Government needs to sort its policies out rather than blaming foreign nationals for making legitimate claims under current UK law. They are not doing anything illegal. It's the system that's to blame. I like the way papers are always happy to ignore where the blame truly lies. Some common sense would not go amiss.
>>I don't think the Poles are responsible for a £33m seepage of child benefit. The Government needs to sort its policies out rather than blaming foreign nationals for making legitimate claims under current UK law. They are not doing anything illegal. It's the system that's to blame. I like the way papers are always happy to ignore where the blame truly lies. Some common sense would not go amiss.
Why don't you believe it? The figures add up:
£33M / 36,000 = ~ £916
Surely it's quite possible that there are 36k poles claiming child benefit in the uk?
"It is ridiculous that we pay child benefit at British rates to be claimed in countries where the cost of living is one quarter of ours."
It's also ridiculous that anyone should be able to claim for supposed children living in any country other than the UK.
Doesn't matter if the leeches are Polish, Portuguese, Romanian or Czech. They're still leeching off honest taxpayers.
If children live in the UK, no problem.
"Surely it's quite possible that there are 36k poles claiming child benefit in the uk?"
The figures don't tally with the report on the Government link below. The £977 is for the first child only. The link gives an estimated 19,054 families claiming for 31,399 children. It's not possible that all 31,399 are therefore at £977. If you take the balance of 12,345 as being the second child you would get a total of £26m. As there were 7.4m families receiving child benefit for 13,2m children, as at the last set of HMRC stats from Aug 2007 giving an estimated bill of £11billion, the £26m is rather small beer in percentage terms. The majority of this is for English nationals with Scotland and wales being at about 1.2m families. I guess seeing as they lost all the child benefit data recently, we won't have any more accurate statistics from this year for a while. I wonder how many of British nationals receiving child benefit are contributing anything to the economy.
Angela it's the Government's systems that allow this, nobody is leeching taxpayers illegally. It's all part of reciprocal agreements that have been agreed at governmental level. Write to your MP rather than blaming foreigners. As Mr hammond has already brought this to the government's attention perhaps they will review their policy.
"nobody is leeching taxpayers illegally."
Unfortunately, not true. A large number of Poles reportedly claim for children they don't have. Not i Poland. Not in the UK.
"It's all part of reciprocal agreements that have been agreed at governmental level."
Sorry, but Poland doesn't pay child benefit to anyone except the lowest of the low paid. It's not universal. I'm also 100% sure that not a single claim is being made by a British citizen in Poland for Polish child benefit! So what is reciprocal?
Well that's down to the government to deal with accordingly in tightening up requirements, investigations and policies.
I'm sure that there is fraud amongst British claims too, such as the one below which went undetected until he was claiming for 36 children. Considering all the payments went into one bank account, you'd think someone would have twigged.
Hmm, not sure about the 1st child/subsequent children - haven't seen all the figures. Just wanted to illustrate that the figures are not outside the realm of believability.
>>the £26m is rather small beer in percentage terms.
Well, that's a different argument.
>>seeing as they lost all the child benefit data recently, we won't have any more accurate statistics from this year for a while
The cretins didn't lose it as such - they lost a copy. They still have all the data.
Im my opinion, and probably that of most neutral parties, the idea of UK welfare going to people living in East Europe is absolutely ridiculous.
And just because claiming this welfare is possible legally it doesn't make the people doing it any less of a scrounger or leech.
I would also suggest that people who leave children behind in Poland and swan off to England are unfit parents.
There is a lot of work available in Poland for those who want it.
Yes of course it's ludicrous. As is the fact that some guy in scotland managed to claim £86k for 36 kids into the same bank account before anyone noticed something was amiss....