MORE than 150,000 illegal immigrants are said to be claiming benefits despite not having any rights to live in Britain, it was claimed last night.
Government ministers have found that Labour allowed tens of thousands of people to wrongly qualify for sickness benefits and maternity pay–costing the tax-payer “tens of millions of pounds”.
It is thought most of the 155,000 abusers of the system did so by outstaying their working visas or managing to find employment without having any work permit.
At present someone could be working illegally in the UK and be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance and statutory payments such as maternity or paternity pay and sick pay, a source claimed.
This is because the Department for Work and Pensions has not asked to see work permits when assessing claims and employers have not been asked to prove those claiming benefits are working in Britain legally.
The Whitehall source added: “It cannot be right that people who aren’t eligible to work here can get benefits that are a substitute for earnings.
“This is a classic example of where the welfare system has been allowed to get completely out of control. It is difficult to track because these are illegal workers, but the cost is likely to be in the tens of millions.”
The Government plans to crack down on the issue with the Welfare Reform Bill, expected to be introduced into Parliament shortly, which will ensure access to any of the benefits includes an entitlement to work here.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “We know that family is the most important influence on a child’s life, so it is no surprise that with this many children growing up with parents on unemployment benefits we are facing inter generational worklessness and benefit dependency on such a massive scale.”