THE number of British people claiming jobless benefits in Ireland is almost five times the number of Irish people claiming in Britain, it has emerged.
A study into British unemployed claiming benefits abroad in Europe found that 11,222 claimed Jobseeker's Allowance in Ireland, compared to just 2,620 Irish who claim in Britain.
Britain's prime minister David Cameron has been pushing to "reform" European free movement, with immigration a significant and contentious issue in British politics.
But it appears that any such reforms would negatively impact British people living abroad, especially those living here.
A spokesperson for the Department of Social Protection told the Herald that the figures referred to the number of British people on Jobseeker's Allowance at the end of October 2014.
She added that there was also a number on Jobseeker's Benefit, bringing the total figure to 12,388.
The basic rates for both is up to €188 a week. Jobseeker's Allowance is based on a means test, while Jobseeker's Benefit is based on an employed person's previous PRSI contributions.
By contrast, Britain's job seeker's allowance pays the equivalent of just €94.30 a week for people aged 25 and older.
Europe-wide figures were complied by The Guardian newspaper, which found that in total there are far more Britons claiming benefits in some European countries than vice versa .
"The article in question relates specifically to unemployment payments, and so the figures DSP provided to the newspaper relate to the live register only," a spokesperson for Joan Burton's department said.
By the end of December, the Live Register showed that the total number of UK nationals claiming benefits in Ireland increased slightly to 12,654, of which 951 were signing for credits only.
The slight increase was overwhelmingly due to normal seasonal factors, according to the department.
The total number of UK nationals aged between 15-64 who are living in Ireland according to the 2011 census was around 87,000.
Britain and Ireland are part of a common travel zone that includes the Isle of Man and British people will be considered habitually resident in the UK if they have been living in any of these places.