Last week’s Brexit decision will mean the end of some Tory Benefit cuts, in an ironic twist for the populist right. The planned cuts would have meant the end of all Jobseekers Allowance claims for EC Citizens and a ban on Tax Credits for the first 4 years of residency; plunging thousands of working families into poverty.
The move was so extreme that Cameron had to negotiate special permission from Brussels, using the threat of Brexit as a bargaining chip.
Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, that chip is long gone and Cameron’s special deal is off the table forever. This was made abundantly clear by the joint institutions of the EU, last Friday.
“As agreed, the ‘New Settlement for the United Kingdom within the EU’, reached at the European Council on 18 to 19 February 2016, will now not take effect and ceases to exist. There will be no renegotiation.”
David Cameron himself confirmed the death of the policy in a commons debate yesterday, telling the house: “I made a series of suggestions about welfare changes that will not now be coming in, and I am obviously sad about that.”
So, no more special treatment for Tory Politicians. No new benefit cuts for EC workers.
The overall situation, however, remains bleak. EC Citizens across Britain woke up on the 25th to a future of uncertainty and an unprecedented rise in racial abuse. And, while the latest cuts have been averted, previous cuts must still be lived with.
As we reported on 20th June, The Tory Government has repeatedly targeted benefit cuts at EC Citizens, creating a two tier benefits system. (https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/06/20/camerons-toxic-welfare-debate/)
An EC citizen arriving in Scotland today to look for work faces a three month wait before they can even make a claim for Jobseekers Allowance, Child Benefit or Child Tax Credit.
Once they have claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance, they are only entitled to it for 3 months before facing stringent questions on their likelihood of finding work. If their only “right to reside” is as a jobseeker, they will not be entitled to Housing Benefit at any point.
If an EC citizen loses her job after working in the UK, she can “retain” her “worker status.” This will entitle her to 6 months of Jobseeker’s Allowance before the dreaded “genuine prospect of seeking work” test kicks in- resulting in benefits termination in most cases.
Scotland now faces a new referendum and a new chance at national self-determination within the institutions of Europe. To be a good European Citizen- an independent Scotland we will need to reverse all these cuts and restore our fellow Europeans to a position of equality within the benefits system.