BRITISH taxpayers are sending £2million-a-year in child benefits to families living across the Irish Sea.
New figures show that Ireland is the second largest claimant of the British benefit outside the UK, with 1,231 families receiving the weekly payment for 2,505 children.
But their claiming of the State support was dwarfed by first place Poland.
The eastern European country accounted for almost two thirds of the 34,000 payments made annually to families across the EU.
The news comes as last week’s local and European elections showed huge support for Nigel Farage’s UKIP party, which claims Britain should quit the EU so it can radically alter its policies on foreign workers.
Official figures show that the £30million-a-year paid in child benefit to families across the EU accounts for less than 0.01 per cent of the total cost of child benefit to British taxpayers.
But the Conservative MP who uncovered the statistics called on Prime Minister David Cameron to act.
Andrew Rosindell said Mr Cameron should heed UKIP’s call for migrants to be banned from claiming benefits until they have been here for five years.
If foreign workers need State support, they should “return to their own country and claim benefits there”, he said.
“I think that a common market does not mean we have a common benefits system,” the Romford MP added.
“I don’t believe that anybody coming in from the European Union should get any benefits at all until they are more permanently settled in this country. I think it should be five years before they get benefits.”
Child benefit is paid at a rate of £20.50 per week for a family’s eldest or only child, with an additional £13.55 for every subsequent child.
While HMRC does not hold statistics on the total value of child benefit sent abroad, the figures show that the bill is up to £30million-a-year.
They also show that Polish workers make by far the largest number of child benefit claims for their children back home.
Some 13,174 families in the eastern European country were claiming the support for 22,093 children as of December 2013.
After Ireland, the top-five is completed by Lithuania, Latvia and France, where the numbers of families claiming the benefit are 1,215, 797 and 789 respectively.
HMRC said it was obliged to make the payments under EU law and pointed out that the number of families abroad claiming the benefit has fallen by 15 per cent since 2012.
A spokesperson added: “To receive Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for children living in another member state, the claimant must be making compulsory national insurance contributions or receiving other contributory benefits, as well as meeting the all other eligibility requirements.”