The Treasury has revealed that almost 50,000 children living in EU countries are receiving child benefit and tax credit payments.
According to the figures, a total of 40,171 children living outside the UK were living in families receiving child benefit at the end of December. In addition, 6,838 families with children were receiving tax credit payments.
The great majority of the children live in Poland – 25,659. More than two and a half thousand live in Ireland and just over 2,000 in France.
The benefits are claimed by relatives of the children living in the UK.
According to a report in The Telegraph, the figures were published in response to a request by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Chairman Keith Vaz MP said:
“I am very surprised at this figure. Most people would consider it wrong for people to receive child benefit when the children are living abroad permanently.”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said:
“The main purpose of child benefit and the child tax credit is to support families in the UK.”
He added that the government was obliged to make the payments under EU regulations which protect the “social security rights of nationals of all member states of the European economic area.”