New immigrants told: You must pay to see a GP – and will move to the back of the queue for council homes
Marks a new ‘hardline’ stance on immigration aimed at reviving Tory fortunes
Banned from getting council houses for up to five years after they settle
Rush to stop Bulgarians and Romanians being allowed free access
23 March 2013
New measures: Immigrants will be forced to pay to visit a GP
Immigrants will be forced to pay to visit a GP and be banned from getting council houses for up to five years after they settle in Britain.
The moves, to be signalled by David Cameron this week, mark a new ‘hardline’ stance on immigration aimed at reviving Tory fortunes.
The Prime Minister intends to introduce legislation on both issues in the next few months, despite the likelihood of strong opposition from Labour MPs.
The measures are to be rushed through to stop Bulgarians and Romanians being allowed free access to the UK next January.
A senior source said: ‘The PM wants the immigration system to back people who work hard and do the right thing. He is determined to bring an end to the situation where people can come to the UK and get benefits and public services without putting anything in.
‘He is opposed to the “something for nothing” culture of some people who come here from abroad and jump the housing queue of deserving local families who have lived in an area for years and paid taxes.
‘We want to remove any expectation that new migrants can expect the taxpayer to give them a home on arrival.’
Earlier this month, Nick Clegg chaired a Home Affairs Cabinet Committee to examine plans to deter EU migrants from coming to Britain by slashing benefits without breaching discrimination laws.
They examined options to restrict access to housing and welfare, and introducing an ‘entitlement card’ for all EU citizens.
The Prime Minister, above, intends to introduce legislation on both issues in the next few months.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also looking at proposals to restrict access to services by introducing a tighter ‘habitual residency test’.
At the same time, the Home Office has been examining ways to bar migrants from Romania and Bulgaria from using NHS hospitals if they come to Britain without a job.
People who have lived in the UK for the past year can get free treatment at hospitals, while those who are here for a shorter time are charged.
However, foreign patients can use GPs’ surgeries without charge.
The Government review has looked at whether the system applied by hospitals should be extended to GPs.
Doctors’ leaders have suggested that Ministers should introduce a system under which patients who cannot provide proof of residence have to pay for treatment.
However, the British Medical Association has advised its members not to make any checks on residency because ‘there is no obligation on them to do so’ – and it could leave them open to allegations of discrimination.
GP practices have been placed under a growing burden by the requirement to provide free emergency treatment and immediate necessary treatment for up to 14 days to any person within their practice area.
EU citizens from outside the UK have the same rights to free NHS treatment as British residents when they take up residence here, either as temporary migrant workers or as permanent residents.
At the same time, nearly one in ten council houses and ‘social housing’ go to foreign nationals, a 30 per cent rise in four years.
The new rules are intended to force town halls to introduce a ‘local residency test’ before letting families join the list for a council home.
They will have to wait a minimum of two and a maximum of five years to join the list, depending on the availability of houses.
Local authorities are currently free to impose such restrictions, but many choose not to.