By Eloise Horsfield
UK citizens are claiming up to £67 per week in dole hand-outs while ‘sunning themselves on the Costa del Sol,’ ministers fear.
Official figures show £1 million was paid in Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) in 2010-11 to an estimated 2,000 people who left Britain for another European country.
“How many of these people do we think are genuinely seeking work while they are sunning themselves on the Costa del Sol?” said Conservative MP Philip Davies, who is among a group of ministers seeking reforms to EU law to restrict hand-outs.
The Department of Work and Pensions, although unable to provide the Olive Press with a breakdown of figures for Spain, confirmed that ‘under certain conditions’ unemployment benefits can continue for three months.
Claimants must have been registered for at least four weeks in Britain and exhaust all possibilities of finding a job there, before extending their search in another country it said.
“They must register with the employment services and comply with the job search obligations and control procedures in that country,” it added.
To register as unemployed in Spain, British dole claimants need to first obtain an NIE and social security number – a simple process which takes just one morning.
After that, their JSA will be paid directly into their bank account for three months.
However critics claim it is easy for those on the dole to take a lax attitude to their ‘job search’ while enjoying a trip in Spain.
“Other countries aren’t going to be busting a gut to ensure they are seeking work when they are over there, when it is the British taxpayer who is paying up,” said Davies.
Meanwhile Emma Boon of the Taxpayers’ Alliance added: “Many taxpayers can’t afford a holiday right now so it will seem strange to them that the Department is handing out JSA to those living abroad.
“There must be safeguards in place to ensure that people don’t exploit the system.”