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028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New EEA jobseekers no longer entitled to Housing Benefit

New regulations came into force on 1 April 2014 limiting an EEA national’s right to access Housing Benefit (HB) (1).  The implementation of the Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations (NI) 2014 follows a number of government measures to limit access to means-tested benefits for nationals of EEA countries, including limiting access to income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB)) only to EEA migrants who have been in the UK for three months.

The regulations amend entitlement to HB so that where an EEA national’s only right to reside in the UK is as a jobseeker they will be treated as a ‘person from abroad’ and will, therefore, be ineligible to claim HB. This will apply even if the jobseeker is entitled to JSA(IB). (Previous to this amendment entitlement to JSA(IB) would have automatically made the claimant eligible to apply for HB.) This change is effective from 1 April 2014.

Who is not affected?

The changes do not apply to:

  • EEA migrants genuinely self-employed or who are in employment,
  • EEA nationals who have been working in the UK, and are subsequently made redundant and claim JSA(IB) i.e. persons who have retained their worker status.

Transitional protection

EEA jobseekers who are entitled to HB and JSA(IB) on 31 March 2014 will be able to continue to receive HB until they have a break in their claim for HB or JSA(IB) i.e. where there is a change in their circumstances which necessitates looking at their claim again.

For further information see the Department for Work and Pensions memo on this amendment.

[1] The European Economic Area (EEA) is made up of the European Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom) and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. An agreement also exists to give Swiss nationals similar rights. 

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