Welfare clampdown plan
Downing Street has confirmed a local links-for-welfare idea is one of a "range of options" being considered to limit access to benefits.
A ministerial sub-committee is looking at plans to limit access to benefits, health care and housing when freedom to work controls on Romanians and Bulgarians end.
One plan being considered entails linking access to council housing to people's connections with the local area, along with linking benefits to contributions - a move which would exclude any new arrivals.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said today that such a link would make sense.
He told the BBC: "It does seem to me to be immensely sensible to ensure that if you work in an area or you’ve got a big connection – you might have been educated there or your family might be nearby – to receive some kind of priority in social housing.”
The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman confirmed this was under consideration. He said it was one of a "range of options" but added: "We are not at the announcements stage".
Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant accused the Government of pandering to Tory backbenchers. "These are important issues and deserve a more considered and coherent approach than that dictated by internal party positioning," he said.
Downing Street also revealed today said that no Cabinet ministers are sitting on the Inter-Ministerial Group on Migrants' Access to Benefits and Public Services. The 12-strong group is being chaired by Immigration Minister Mark Harper and is comprised of ministers from a range of departments.