Bernard Dineen: Feckless politicians allowed a foreign influx

THE British people must be the most long-suffering people in the world. They are robbed, swindled, bamboozled and exploited by everyone who chooses to do so. If they complain, they run the risk of being accused of racism.

You can't blame the foreigners who take advantage of our misplaced generosity. They are doing what comes naturally. The blame lies with the feckless politicians who have created the system.

I could fill this column every week with examples. A London family decided to renovate their home, and rented another while the work was being carried out. When they were ready to move back, they found it had been occupied by a gang of Romanian squatters.

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The police said it was a civil matter – nothing to do with them – but they quickly sprang into action when the householder said it was wrong that foreign squatters were allowed to live in Britain on benefits. He was immediately accused of racism.

Last week, the episode was repeated in Northampton. A man arrived home from work to find all the lights on, and a strange car in the drive. I don't have to tell you the rest.

This has been a busy month for the welfare tourists. An East European gang took us to the cleaners to the tune of 450,000 by setting up a fake building firm, which claimed to have 55 employees.

They were, in fact, fellow immigrants who flew in just long enough to claim tax credits of hundreds of pounds a month, and then went home but continued to draw the benefits at long distance. I hope Ed Balls is proud of the way his much-vaunted tax credits are spreading a little happiness in Eastern Europe.

The barrister for one of the fraudsters said it was a reality that this country is known as "Benefits Britain" and the man wasn't responsible for the ease with which the British taxpayer could be defrauded. He

has a point.

Membership of the EU is behind much of the welfare tourism. Last week, the High Court decided in favour of a Portuguese citizen seeking to compel the British taxpayer to pay child benefit for his children living in Portugal. The man continues to live in Britain because of the access it gives him to disability benefit.

There is a particular problem involving Romanians. Under rules introduced when Romania joined the EU in 2006, migrants cannot get a National Insurance number – which is the key to getting benefits – unless they can prove they have paid employment lined up.

No problem. A couple are now in custody awaiting trial, accused of setting up a phoney agency to provide false documentation, with fake

invoices and references.

Our EU neighbours have avoided many of these problems because, when the new East European countries joined, existing members were allowed to take a seven-year moratorium before the newcomers were allowed full access to labour markets. France, Germany and

others took advantage. But not Britain. Big-hearted Tony Blair threw open the gates immediately.

I am sure he now worries about the trouble this has caused as he relaxes on a beach in Bermuda.

HOW long is the wind farm scam going to be allowed to continue?

The repeated propaganda that sites will "power umpteen thousand homes" is now exposed for the nonsense of it.

The first full survey has found that one-fifth of the sites produced less than 20 per cent of their alleged output. Yorkshire made the top five for inefficiency with the wind farm at Chelker Reservoir in North Yorkshire which came second. It operates at just eight per cent of capacity.

A retired judge, who lives close to the site, says this comes as no surprise. Two of the four turbines are scarcely ever seen to be moving; the other two have been lacking propellers for nearly two years. Their ugly stumps deface the splendid vistas northwards to Ribblesdale

and the Lakes.

I wonder how many thousand homes this environmental obscenity is supposed to be supplying.

WHERE do you keep your eco-friendly light bulbs? Mine are put away in a store cupboard because I never intend to use them.

No fewer than 180 million packs of these bulbs landed on our doormat last year as part of the Government's carbon reduction campaign, but this sudden burst of generosity was not quite what it seemed.

The big energy suppliers had been ordered to give away free insulation, draught-proofing and energy-saving light bulbs in order to help households use less gas and electricity.

The consumer group Which? takes exception to the whole giveaway and says that marketing the bulbs as "free" just adds insult to injury. On average, 45 a year is added to household energy bills for these carbon-cutting measures.

There is indeed no such thing as a free lunch when you are dealing with the big power companies.