IMMIGRANTS with multiple wives could claim higher benefit payments thanks to a loophole in the Govern-ment’s welfare shake-up, it emerged yesterday.Now it does strike me that any potential immigrant with more than one wife should automatically be disqualified from immigrating to this country unless they are prepared to divorce their extra wives and only bring one with them. If they aren't prepared to do that then we won't miss them. What we shouldn't be doing is encouraging an activity which breaks the laws of this land by making it pay.
Under current rules, husbands in polygamous marriages are able to apply for income support and other handouts for their extra spouses. Ministers decided to scrap the rules when the new Universal Benefit system comes in next year to end the “absurd” situation where the state effectively recognises polygamy.
But now officials are concerned that multiple wives will claim full single person’s benefits instead, rather than lower-rate payments designed for “couples”.
Some immigrants could see their weekly handouts almost double from £40 to £71 a week.
The emergence of the loophole triggered fresh concerns about why families in some minority religious groups are permitted to indulge in polygamy while bigamy is illegal and punishable by up to seven years in jail.
At present, polygamous families on jobseeker’s allowance could claim £111.45 a week for the initial couple and £40 for each additional wife. Once they are treated as individuals, the wives could claim £71 a week.
The practice was allowed under the previous administration (surprise, surprise) and has carried on into the current one. There are plans to change it according to ministers, but you know how bureaucratic inertia works. Plus expect a raft of cases using the HRA to try and prevent it.
One country, one law?