Migrant benefits debate highlights need for a bigger conversation

Today Prime Minister David Cameron outlined the Coalition’s proposals to introduce controls on welfare benefits paid to migrants from the EU.  (See the BBC report)

The debate about welfare entitlements for immigrants seems a proxy for the kind of conversation we should be having about our benefits system as a whole.

During the National Conversation on Britain’s welfare state we kept returning to the issue of  contribution.  We found people were concerned about others getting ‘something for nothing’.  Not because they resented paying for it, more because they worried it fed a dependency culture.

The political classes are now talking about how migrants need to contribute to the UK welfare system before they can access public services and support.  But we haven’t yet begun the big conversation we need on building a fair and affordable welfare system.

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