What sort of a society are we turning into. There seems to be a bidding war at the moment as to who can kick immigrants the hardest. There is a lot of talk about how long immigrants should wait before they can claim benefits. There is a groundswell amongst Tory ranks to go well beyond the 3 months proposed by the coalition. It seems to me reasonable that economic migrants from other parts of the EU should come here to work and have a job lined up. The idea that people can move to wherever the benefits are most cushy is not a great idea. This begs the question of how long an immigrant should have to wait.
There is talk of a period of two years, but as far as I am concerned this is a ridiculously long period. Most people, after a period of a few months would take on commitments with properties. If there was no prospect of getting rent paid if tenants lost their job, Landlords would not be prepared to rent accomodation. Like it or not, this would be bad for the economy. I think that a period of three months is quite a reasonable period. People moving to a foreign country should make provision and have the finances to get settled in. Are we really saying that someone who has come in good faith, worked for a company for eighteen months and then finds the company has gone bankrupt, should lose all means to pay the rent. Most will find jobs quite quickly, but sometimes people get unwell or have accidents. Are these to be excluded? If a migrant has been a hard worker and gets mown down by an indigenous drunk driver, should they receive no benefits as they recuperate?
Another argument is that migrants haven't paid anything into the system, so why should they be able to take benefits out. Apart from the obvious fact that we are a civilised country and we don't simply let people fall into destitution, one has to say that most migrants who end up on benefits have not done so out of choice. Benefits should be a safety net. Contrary to much right wing press propoganda, life on benefits is not cushy. Most immigrants have a strong work ethic and have come to the UK to better themselves. You only need to look at your local high street to see how many small businesses are owned by people from other countries.
I am not saying that there are no cases of abuse, but I have yet to see anything which shows that immigrants are any more like to be workshy than the local population. You only have to see how many do menial, low paid jobs to know the opposite is true.
The simple truth, that most right wing politicians are either too dishonest to tell you or too stupid to realise is that without the labour of people who have moved to the UK, the economy would collapse. Next time you go to a hospital, travel on public transport or buy some fast food, try and visualise that running without the efforts of people who weren't born in the UK.
I am not saying that mass immigration is the answer to all the worlds problems, but I believe we should treat everyone with fairness and dignity. To throw people onto the streets because, through no fault of their own, they have become unemployed, with no safety net is simply wrong.