Monday, September 24, 2007


Mum Aneta Kryszczak can't believe her luck as she banks nearly 1,000 Pounds a year in British child benefit - while living IN POLAND.

Husband Mirek sends her the handouts he collects courtesy of UK taxpayers while working as a builder in London.

The monthly 78.43 is wealth beyond wildest dreams for Aneta - whose wages in her full-time job are just 166 a month.

Aneta, mother to seven-year-old Hubert, said: "What could I spend it on? With that money my son can have anything he wants.

"I would not need all that to look after him. Maybe at the start of the school term we could spend it on books and clothes.

"After that I would find it hard to spend it on Hubert, though he would want computer games - maybe a new PlayStation."

Amazingly, Aneta would be sent 169.20 a month - MORE than her wages - if she had three children.

But the Kryszczaks are NOT working some elaborate scam. They are among 14,000 families living abroad who collect our child benefit because of astonishing EU rules.

Ministers last week admitted that, scandalously, more than ?1million a month is handed to the families of youngsters who live in former Communist countries.

Mirek, 36, told The People: "As soon as I arrived in Britain three months ago I heard about it. I was told all I had to do was fill in a form to get almost 80 a month.

"At first I thought it was a joke but it is not."

Back home in Poland's northern region of Warminsko-Mazurskie, Aneta is just as bemused.

"When I first heard it was possible for my husband to claim these benefits I was amazed," she said. "It's still difficult for me to believe - but I am not complaining."

Aneta, 31, and Hubert live with Mirek's parents in the village of Wojciechy.

Although they could not afford their own flat, they now have luxuries such as a large-screen TV in the living room and a computer with flat-screen monitor.

When The People called, Hubert was playing computer games. A bowl on the coffee table in the comfortable living room was brimming with sweets and chocolates. There were other TVs in a bedroom and the kitchen.

Aneta said: "My husband had been thinking about going to Britain for some time. It was hard to make our living when both of us worked in Poland.

"Mirek had a small business and I worked in a bar. We could hardly make ends meet."

Despite Aneta's delight at our generosity, Brits working in Poland cannot expect the same treatment from the Government there. The country's tightly controlled, means-tested system means it would be virtually impossible for a British parent to collect Polish benefit for a child living in this country.

Even Poles have trouble collecting state aid.

Aneta explained: "We tried to get child benefits in Poland but even though our combined income was really low it didn't allow us to get extra money from the government."

Mirek's move to Britain solved that problem. He spoke to The People near Ravenscourt Park Tube station in an area of west London where Poles flock.

Mirek, who had just filled in his child benefit form, was enjoying a beer with work pals near the "Wailing Wall", which is covered in job adverts aimed at migrants.

He said: "When I found out about the possibility to legally claim benefits for my child, I decided to give it a go. Why shouldn't I get the money I am entitled to?" Child benefit, designed to help parents buy food and clothes, is 18.10 a week for the eldest child and 12.10 for each other one. It is paid whatever a family's income.

In Poland the benefit starts at 8.88 - and then it's only for the poorest parents.

Another father delighted with the British system is Jaroslaw Skowronski, whose wife Anna and son Piotr, four, still live in Poland.

Jaroslaw, 31, has been getting child benefit for two years.

He laughed: "Now we just treat is as part of our income. We are not doing anything illegal - so why wouldn't we get it?

"If you see a 20 note on the floor you will pick it up. It is the same - free money."

The People first exposed the loophole a year ago when we found out an agency was helping eastern Europeans exploit the system. We told how immigration consultant Przemyslaw Szymanski charged 75 a time to fill out forms and appeal against any refusals.

A Polish-speaking People undercover reporter found such agencies still flourish.

She contacted one called Kancelaria. One of the workers, Beata, told her there was an 80 charge to fill in the necessary forms. She said: "It is straightforward and there is almost no chance it will be rejected."

Beata said only a national insurance number and birth certificate were needed. About 220,000 Poles applied for a number last year. There are officially 750,000 Polish people living in the UK - though the true figure is put at more than a million.

Philip Hammond, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "Child benefit is a vital weapon in the fight against child poverty. So why is Gordon Brown sending thousands of pounds every week to children who don't live here?"

Matthew Elliott, leader of pressure group the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "The Government should put a stop to it."

A spokesman for Revenue and Customs, which deals with child benefit, said: "If you are from an EU member country and fit the qualifying criteria then you are entitled to claim."