Monday, 13 December 2010

Harriet Harman praises immigrants who send social security benefits to their overseas families as ‘heroic’

Harriet Harman has described immigrants who are on welfare and send money back home to their overseas families as ‘heroic’.

She has said that they should be given tax breaks on their benefits so they can send even more money abroad to their families. In an address to her constituency the Labour party deputy leader said those who send cash back to Africa were hidden heroes.

The Conservative deputy chairman Michael Fallon has challenged Labour leader Ed Miliband to make his position clear on this matter.
“Does he agree that welfare bills are too high or does he back Harriet Harman and think it is right that welfare payments are generous enough to allow people to send them abroad?”

Mr Fallon’s view on this is probably closer to the public opinion than that of Harriet Harman who has done the political right wing elements a huge favour in opening up a debate on something that has until now been out of the mainstream arena.

At at time when the nation’s purse strings are being tightened and Britain is struggling to fund its benefit system Harriet Harman’s comments are quite barmy.

Whilst we are watching our children protest against any further burdening on them for debt that is not theirs, the deputy Labour leader plots to increase the amount of benefits sent overseas by finding ways for other countries to receive remittances from Britain.
Helping to undermine an economy that has already ring-fenced overseas development is ludicrous.

But it does open the debate up that anyone who can afford to send benefits payments to overseas families may be getting money by other means whilst in this country and not paying tax on it.

Funds that remain in Britain also have much higher chance of being spent in Britain. This has a positive effect on the economy in particular with local businesses who are the recipients of those funds.

Bizarrely she claimed the practice – widely seen as an abuse of the overstretched welfare system – was a way of boosting international aid.
Taxpayers foot a £20million annual bill to pay child benefit to immigrants whose children are not even living in Britain.

Her views have left Labour leader Ed Miliband with a fresh headache. Last night his aides pointedly refused to say whether he backed her views. The Tories dismissed Miss Harman’s claims as proof that Labour was out of touch with the public on the need to slash welfare costs.

Labour’s deputy leader, who is also the party’s spokesman on international development, made the comments at a meeting in her Camberwell and Peckham constituency in South London. Miss Harman, sometimes referred to as the MP for Lagos because of her high number of Nigerian-born constituents, said she had been impressed by how many were sending benefits cash back home.

Last year British taxpayers funded child benefit payments for more than 50,000 children outside the UK, 37,900 of them in Poland.

Senior Tories endorsed the right of immigrants to send a portion of their wages to relatives back home but stressed that the government is already putting record funds into international aid, ring-fencing the budget while other departments face cuts.


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