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Nigel Farage calls for five-year ban on migrant benefits

Nigel Farage calls for five-year ban on migrant benefits

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has called for immigrants to be barred from receiving any benefits until they have been resident in the UK for five years.

He also suggested they should not be eligible for tax credits.

It comes as a survey suggests 77% of Britons want to see immigration cut.

The coalition brought in a three month ban on EU citizens getting out-of-work benefits ahead of work restrictions being lifted for Bulgarians and Romanians on 1 January.

But Mr Farage, whose party fought the last election on a policy of halting immigration for five years, said the government should go much further.

He said the cost of migrants claiming in-work welfare payments, such as child benefit, housing benefit and tax credits, had not been factored in to the government's calculations.

"We must be completely mad, as a country, to be giving people from Eastern Europe in-work benefits," he told BBC News.

And he said lower economic growth was a price worth paying for cutting immigration.

"Even if I thought, which I don't, there was an economic benefit to mass immigration some things are more important than money, namely the shape of our society and giving our own youngsters a chance to work."

'Not helpful'
London Mayor Boris Johnson also weighed in to the debate, suggesting the ban on EU citizens claiming benefits should be two years.

Labour said it supported the government's three-month ban, which it said was "reasonable and achievable".

Downing Street said withholding benefits from migrants for longer periods may be illegal.

"We are doing all that we can within the law," said a No 10 spokesman.

Downing Street also confirmed ministers were examining measures to curb the ability of migrants to claim child benefit for children in their native countries.

The British Social Attitudes Survey suggests more than three-quarters of Britons want to see a cut in immigration - and 56% want to see a major crackdown.

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