UK could copy German policy to crack down on “welfare tourism”

Prime Minister David Cameron has faced calls to follow Germany’s example and impose stricter rules on migrant benefits. 

Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the country will be taking a tougher line on those who attempt to cheat the welfare system.

The new legislation – which has been dubbed “whoever lies, flies” – would see EU nationals who have fraudulently claimed social benefits deported, with the worst offenders banned from returning to German shores for up to five years.

The new laws would also place more rigorous checks on those who claim to be self-employed, as well as requiring people who want to stay for more than six months to show they have a job or are likely to get one.

Downing Street said there was a “growing consensus” across Europe that immigration laws needed to change, and said it would consider whether similar rules should be introduced in Britain.

Labour MP Frank Field is among those to have urged the Prime Minister to copy German policy.

“Anyone up in court and found guilty should be deported,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Why should we put up with people who are breaking our laws?”

Several other countries, including Austria and Sweden, have signalled they are sympathetic to the idea of introducing tighter controls on the EU’s freedom of movement rules.

Fears about the existing system were fuelled when Romania and Bulgaria were given full access to other member states.

But some are concerned that curbing freedom of movement is at odds with one of the core principles of the common market.

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