Call for sweeping benefits changes
The Government should push for sweeping changes to European Union rules on welfare payments to prevent immigrants exploiting the benefits system, the Fresh Start Project of Tory MPs has said.
The group, which is campaigning for a looser relationship with Brussels, said there were concerns about the impact of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants after movement restrictions expire at the end of the year.
The report also stressed the need for the UK to make its own welfare system more contributions-based with a "reduced level of safety net".
The project's report, co-authored by Tory MP Priti Patel, concluded that there was little chance of extending the migration controls on Romania and Bulgaria and instead urged a fundamental rethink of the European welfare system.
Ms Patel said: "The public were shocked by the large numbers of Eastern Europeans entering Britain under Labour when new EU countries joined.
"We need to ensure that the same mistakes are not made again, that a measured approach is taken and that the numbers coming to Britain are kept down.
"The Fresh Start Project's recommendations will help the Government achieve that and restore some confidence in the immigration system."
The Government has refused repeated demands to publish or commission estimates of the numbers of migrants from the two Eastern European countries expected to enter Britain in the face of unofficial research predicting as many as 50,000 arriving each year.
The Fresh Start Project report acknowledged there was "very little likelihood" of transitional controls on citizens from the two Eastern European being extended "as this would require the unanimous agreement of all member states, including Romania and Bulgaria".
The report said there were "few credible estimates" of how many migrants from the two countries would come to the UK but "it is reasonable to think that the lifting of restrictions will result in some further immigration from Bulgaria and Romania".