I must confess to being amazed that EU migrants were eligible for in-work benefits - surely the whole point of tax credits was to incentivise the native British long-term unemployed to get a job. As the spectrum of benefits steadily increased over the decades since the war job-seeker's allowance, child benefits, housing benefits etc, the incentive to find low-paid employment withered away. If you are on 250 quid benefits a week, why bother to go to work for 300 quid a week - a mere £50 pounds for surrendering 40 hours of your time - it works out at £1.25 an hour.
So Tony Blair's government introduced a system of Working Tax Credits in 2002 to ease the way off benefits and into paid employment via a complex system of tapering the credits as pay rises. According to Wikipedia, seven million people in low-paid jobs are entitled to in-work benefits.
Now, Poland has been in the EU for a decade, over a million Poles have at one time or another during that decade worked in the UK, and probably over 600,000 have decided to stay permanently.
I would argue that the existence of Working Tax Credits played no part in any Pole's decision to travel to the UK in search of work. However, once they were in Britain, and working - in a factory, warehouse, hotel, farm etc, and the regular wage packets started coming in, and they got talking to the natives, they realised that Working Tax Credits made it worthwhile to bring over kith and kin - and indeed to start a family in Britain.
Mr Cameron's pledge to only allow EU migrant workers access to in-work benefits and social housing until they have been in the UK for four years will take the shine off Britain's reputation as a welfare paradise - for that tiny proportion of migrants from EU countries that see it that way.
I'm sure that across the UK, few British taxpayers will argue against Mr Cameron's proposals. If you've not paid into the system, why should you be entitled to its benefits after a mere three months?
The problem with the migration debate, UKIP and the UK's possible departure from the EU, is that leaving the EU will not solve the far deeper problem that Britain faces. From the Office of National Statistics' Migration Statistics Quarterly: "The statistically significant increase of 30,000 in immigration of non-EU citizens to 272,000 was in part driven by an increase in immigration to accompany/join others up 19,000 to 54,000."
Look at the graph below:
The rising green line of EU migrants since 2012 has been predicated by the UK's economic turnaround, the moribund state of the eurozone economies, the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU, and a rising number of Poles heading to the UK to work. The vast majority of the green line is in Britain to work. Last week's survey by University College London showing the UK is £20 billion a year better off as a result of EU migration is yet another piece of research which emphatically proves that Britain's economy is in better shape being inside an open EU than out of it.
The orange line is a different story. Yes, it includes Americans, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders etc, in the UK to work. But it also includes 54,000 relatives of non-EU migrants who are coming over from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia and Ghana to join their families.
The graph below shows that EU migrants contribute far more to the UK economy than the larger number of non-EU migrants:
This time three years ago:
This time four years ago:
Krakowskie Przedmieście in the snow
This time five years ago:
Ul. Poloneza closed for the building of the S2