By Russell Bruce
This article first published on Newsnet.scot on 6th February 2016
The National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) has just released some limited information from the UK government on migrant tax credit claims.
Jonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow at NIESR, said: “The Prime Minster’s focus on migrants’ benefits is misguided and this new data shows that the Prime Minister’s claim that 40 percent of recently arrived European migrants were dependent on benefits was at best selective and misleading.
“Given that well over a million European migrants registered for National Insurance numbers over the period in question [2009/10 to 2012/13] , and far more since, this suggests that claim rates among newly arrived migrants are, as researchers have always argued, quite low. Once again this suggests that the PM’S focus on this issue is misguided – the “emergency brake”” will have only a modest impact on benefit receipt, and is highly unlikely to have a significant impact on migration flows.”
This latest data still leaves some important questions unanswered. In particular, the government is still refusing to tell us – for obvious political reasons – how many recent European migrants are recorded as being active in the UK labour market.”
In finally releasing this long awaited data the government chose to limit the information provided. Researchers and journalists are still waiting for freedom of information requests to be properly fulfilled. It seems the missing information might be an inconvenient truth undermining the Conservative governments chosen narrative.
Portes added: “But a distressing lack of transparency and a continued approach of only releasing partial and selective data continues. This is both disappointing and unhelpful for the public debate.”
Substitute unhelpful to David Cameron and UKIP jumping jacks and we begin to see for whom public debate is unhelpful.