Home Office written question – answered on 23rd December 2015.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she plans to take to reduce net migration from Europe, other than seeking reform of provision of welfare for non-British EU citizens.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

Free movement is an important principle of the EU but it is not an unqualified right and it must be grounded in the freedom to take up work in another Member State, to contribute to the economy and to integrate into society.

We have taken firm steps to restrict access to out of work benefits by EU jobseekers and we can remove them if they are not in a job within six months. We have removed access to Universal Credit and Housing Benefit for jobseekers and introduced a new test to check whether EU nationals who claim in-work benefits really have meaningful and effective employment here.

We have toughened the Habitual Residence Test, the gateway test which all migrants have to satisfy to access benefits, and we have introduced tougher checks for the payment of child benefit and child tax credit to EU nationals. To tackle abuse, we have introduced new powers so that EU nationals who don’t meet the requirements for residence are removed and banned from coming back for 12 months, unless they have a valid reason to be here (for example an immediate job start).

The Prime Minister set out in his speech on 10 November and in his letter to the President of the European Council the issues we are seeking to tackle through the EU reform negotiations to restore a sense of fairness to our immigration system and to reduce the current very high level of population flows from within the EU into the UK.

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