Tory MP slammed for untrue defence of new charge for EU migrants accessing NHS

Ministers watch chancellor Rishi Sunak delivering his budget in the House of Commons. Photograph: UK

Ministers watch chancellor Rishi Sunak delivering his budget in the House of Commons. Photograph: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Hidden in Rishi Sunak's small print of the budget is a revelation that all migrants will have to pay more for the NHS - including EU citizens who previously received it free at the point of care.

Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA.

Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA. - Credit: PA

Revealed on the day that the government vowed to do all it can to tackle the coronavirus, all migrants are now expected to pay a £624 per annum charge to access the NHS, with children expected to pay £470.

Previously, the charge was £400 for adults and £300 for children for migrants outside the EU - now EU migrants will have to pay the increased charge on top of existing taxes.

It means a family of four from the EU migrating to the UK will face a new £2,200-a-year fee to use the NHS,

The levy is added to visa applications as an annual fee for UK healthcare.

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Opposition parties criticised the measure with Lib Dem leadership contender Layla Moran calling the measure 'shameful'.

She tweeted: 'Tories are increasing the immigration health surcharge. So migrant workers who we desperately need to staff vital services pay more even though they contribute on average more to the economy. Shameful.'

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But one senior Tory MP's defence has provoked further anger - by claiming most EU countries apply the same similar charges for access to its healthcare.

Tom Tugendhat, who served as the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, tweeted: 'Most EU countries require some co-payment or contribution that comes from the individual or the employer. This is bringing us into line with others.'

He was quickly urged to name an example of a country doing so, but Tugendhat has yet to respond or remove his incorrect tweet.

'No they don't. That's what FoM [freedom of movement] means,' said Twitter user @AwayfromTheKeys.

'No, this is simply not true. The UK system is a surcharge only for immigrants on top of their tax/NI contributions,' said Professor Tanja Bueltmann.

'Lies,' wrote Hans-Erik Iken. 'No such thing in the Netherlands specifically for immigrants, everybody pays the same.'

'In Italy I pay the same taxes as an Italian. I have never had to pay anything extra for being foreign,' said Sarah Calvert.

'Absolute rubbish,' @jilliebinfrance told the MP. 'Here in France we pay tax and social charges like everybody else and get the same healthcare that the French do.'

'Which EU countries single out immigrants and charge them discriminatory rates?' asked Aaron Vincent.

'Immigrants absolutely do pay into the healthcare system in other EU countries, but through the tax system just as is currently the case in the UK,' pointed out @droidson.

'You're comparing apples and oranges,' replied Dave Keating. 'Yes, most EU countries don't have single-payer healthcare systems like the NHS, so *everyone* pays a contribution. None of them charge residents more if they are foreign nationals. I can't think of any healthcare system that works this way.'

'I can't think of another EU country that's levying a poll tax on foreigners,' tweeted Risto Pyykkö.

'Name the EU countries and their charges Tom,' said Phil Watson.

'The most damaging thing about this rubbish is Tugendhat implying that EU citizens have been enjoying a free ride at the expense of The British People,' noted Frédéric Moreau. 'This is the innuendo and incitement of hatred we know from Farage.'

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