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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Briefing on restrictions on migrants accessing benefits

The House of Commons Library has issued a useful briefing, summarising recent and proposed changes to migrants’ rights to access welfare benefits

The briefing, available from the House of Commons research department sets out the measures which the coalition government has taken to address the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensuring that the “welfare system is not taken advantage of”.

Significant changes since December 2013

The changes which have been brought in since December 2013 include

  • a changed Habitual Residence Test for those claiming means-tested benefits
  • a requirement for new Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to have been living in the UK for three months before making a claim
  • limiting payment of JSA to six months for some claimants
  • a new minimum earnings threshold to establish if work is genuine and effective
  • restrictions on new EEA jobseekers receiving housing benefit.

At Housing Rights Service, we’ve had a surge in enquiries relating to these changes, so this briefing will be useful to any advisers not familiar with the changes.  Returning UK or Irish nationals have also been affected by these changes, so it’s vital that advisers understand how these regulations will be applied to new claimants.

Additional changes for migrant benefit claimants

The briefing paper outlines the further restrictive measures, announced in April 2014, which the Government has taken to restrict benefits for migrants.  These include

  • ending interpretation services for new JSA claimants
  • an expectation that new claimants without sufficient spoken English skills will undertake training to improve their language skills
  • restricting child benefit for any new jobseekers arriving in the UK.

Helping clients affected by these changes

Advising on benefit entitlement for migrants is a really complicated issue and it’s essential that you’re up to date with all the recent changes.  Housing Rights Service is running a training course on these issues in September

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Benefits, Minority Groups

This article was written on 9 September 2014. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.