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Benefits

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to ensure that no European Union citizen seeking work and accommodation in the United Kingdom becomes destitute. [HL4637]

To be entitled to income-related benefits, including income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, state pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit, a claimant must be habitually resident, and have a right to reside, in the Common Travel Area. The Common Travel Area includes the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, and the Republic of Ireland.

Workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) other than nationals of the 10 accession countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) have immediate access to income-related benefits. This is because they have a right to reside under EC law and are treated as habitually resident.

Workers from the accession countries who are registered under the Home Office worker registration scheme have a right to reside and are entitled to in-work benefits such as housing benefit and council tax benefit. If they are in part-time work, working 15 hours or less a week, they can also qualify for income-based jobseeker's allowance. If they lose their job they lose their worker status, but will be able to remain in the UK to look for work. However, they will not have access to the benefit system. After 12 months of uninterrupted registered work they can have access to the full range of benefits.

Local authorities have a duty to support certain categories of people who are subject to immigration control, have no recourse to public funds and who are assessed as having a need for care and attention that is over and above a simple lack of accommodation and subsistence.