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Council Housing

Volume 448: debated on Monday 3 July 2006

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the recent Court of Appeal decision in the cases of Hassan Ismael and Nimco Abdi against the London borough of Barnet. (66828)

I have been asked to reply.

In the case of London borough of Barnet v. Abdi and Ismael, the applicants were both EEA nationals who were economically inactive and were not “qualified persons” for the purpose of regulation 5 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2000. The status of “qualified person” under those regulations relates to whether or not a person has a right to reside in the United Kingdom under European Union law, for example as a worker. The Court of Appeal found that the applicants were subject to immigration control as they did not have a right to reside. This would have meant the applicants were eligible for homelessness assistance under the housing rules which then applied to persons subject to immigration control, in a way that was not intended.

To close this loophole, the Government have made regulations to narrow the classes of eligibility for social housing and homelessness assistance for persons subject to immigration control. The effect of this is to ensure that nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) who are economically inactive and do not have a right to reside in the UK are not eligible for social housing and homelessness assistance in England (unless, exceptionally, they fall into one of the other classes of eligibility that relate to persons subject to immigration control). The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Amendment) Regulations 2006 came into force on 20 April.

The new regulations reinforce the measures introduced in May 2004, and will help ensure that people cannot come to the United Kingdom simply to get access to the social welfare system.