The conversations under this heading were quite passionate and often vitriolic. Sadly, if I am honest, almost every one of them made reference to those from Eastern Europe in a way that took me back to my childhood in North London - except then the target for the vitriol was 'the blacks'! Funny how short a distance our nation has come over the past fifty years.
EU migrants to the UK are taking £££££ in terms of benefits and they are being housed ahead of births nationals. They're taking our jobs and pushing up the house pricesThey come to get free NHS and take jobs from the native population of this island. Leaving the EU would save us spending almost a billion pounds (the Daily Mail actually reported it to be £886,000,000 at the end of February 2016) - and this, "Staggering welfare bill ... meant unemployed EU migrants received £886 million in Housing Benefit, Jobseeker’s Allowance and sickness pay in 2013-14. A fresh influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants means the figures are now likely to be even higher. Philip Davies, a Conservative MP said: ‘It’s amazing we’ve got some figures at last, but one has to question how reliable they are. They certainly won’t be underestimates. It’s quite clear that immigration has gone up recently so the figures must be well over a billion pounds now, even by the Government’s own estimates."
The Mail went on to add: "The 43-page dossier, 'The Best Of Both Worlds' claims that about four in ten recent arrivals from the EU are in households that get benefits.
It says EU migrants received £2.5 billion of benefits for workers on low incomes, made up of Housing Benefit and Working Tax Credits, ten per cent of the total UK bill."
Worse still, EU migrants with children in their home countries claim a further £27,000,000 (34,000 claims for UK child benefit for children residing in EU states.
The figures speak for themselves - if we left the EU we could stop sending benefits and this could be used to transform the NHS. Obviously leaving is a 'no-brainer'
Those EU immigrants to the Uk are actually a blessing rather than a curse - the reason for this position being taken is that, generally speaking, they're young and working and that means they pay more into our economy in terms of spending and taxation than they will ever take from it. You see the reality, contrary to popular belief, is that British citizens are more like to claim, and depend on, benefits than any of the EU immigrants.
An interesting reality is that the baby-boomers are ageing fast and it is to the immigrant population that we are increasingly looking to fill the gap they are leaving - and it's not just low-skilled manual labour jobs they're doing, there are a number of professionally qualified folk joining us, and that makes them extremely valuable to this country at home and in exports too.
As for clawing back the 1 billion we give to EU migrants (and their kids) and using it to spend on the NHS such that it is 'transformed' - the only answer I can give is to point to the planned expenditure for 2015/16 (£116.574billion) and ask the question about the difference reducing the bill by 0.86% of the overall spend would really do. This is not the transformational influence those supporting 'Leave EU' are portraying it as, is it?
It is a bit of a shock (well I was shocked) to find that the HMRC (the Taxman) defines migrant non-UK families as as family, “where at least one adult is a migrant when issued with a national insurance number”. So any couple where one partner is a British national and the other from the EU becomes part of the 'EU Scrounger' statistics' ! Suddenly the arguments against the EU seem a little less complex - perhaps we need to ban Brits from marrying foreign types as it is not only weakening the pedigree British strain (apologies for Dutch descent on my part) and confuses the benefits picture!
To give a sense of feel for this, the figures from the Office for National Statistics, show around are 1.1 million 'mixed EU/British' couples - that's more than 7% of all couples un the UK at the moment/
So - not as clear a picture as one might thing (yet again)