Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what definition his Department uses of habitual residence for the purpose of claiming benefit; and what definition is used in other European Economic Area States. (154695)

Entitlement to income-related benefits requires that a person has a right to reside and be habitually resident in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland (generally known as the Common Travel Area). If a person does not have a right to reside then he or she is treated as not being habitually resident and is not entitled to those benefits. A person who has a right to reside must also show that he or she is habitually resident in the UK unless he or she falls into an exemption category, such as that for EU workers.

The term “habitual residence” is not defined in UK social security legislation but there is both domestic and EC case law on how that term should be interpreted. In order to determine whether a person is habitually resident, decision makers will, on the basis of the guidelines set out in the case law, consider a variety of factors about the person’s circumstances. These include, for example, his or her attachment to and intentions in the UK; his or her reasons for coming here; and whether the person has family in the UK etc. Benefit decision-makers must be satisfied on objective grounds that a person who claims income-related benefits after arriving in the country has genuinely adopted the UK as his or her place of habitual residence.

Where other European Economic Area States use the term “habitual residence” as a condition of entitlement to benefit, the term should be used in accordance with their domestic law and EC case law.