UK Prime Minister to cut benefits for Portuguese

UK Prime Minister to cut benefits for Portuguese

Joanna Pedro twists her hair in her hands, visibly upset at the idea that the British Prime Minister wants to cut benefits to people from her country who work in Britain.

She is a Portuguese nurse and worked in the UK for four years. She left home because her husband got a job in Britain.

She says neither of them made any welfare claims in the UK. She did get child benefit when she had a baby – and although that wouldn’t be cut she thinks the principle of cutting benefits is unfair.

“I think it is wrong – if you are there you are contributing with your work and your taxes.”

Would it stop her coming? Perhaps.

“How can you go to a country, paying your taxes, and you’re getting nothing back?”

That of course is what the Prime Minister wants – to put people off.

No-one says that welfare payments are a reason to go to the UK.

Portugal’s economy has been dire since the economic crisis, with unemployment around 11 %, and many people have gone abroad to find work: around two million, which equates to 20% of the population.

People don’t go to the UK in an act of desperation, but one of adventure and growth, almost a rite of passage. Perhaps it is the legacy of a nation that was the first to cross the seemingly limitless Atlantic in quest of brave new worlds.

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