Further curbs to migrants’ access to benefits announced
The Government has announced changes affecting EEA nationals in the UK. Some of the main changes are as follows:
- As of 1 April 2014, new EEA jobseekers have no longer been able to get Housing Benefit.
- As of 9 April 2014, claimants eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance no longer have routine access to interpretation services, except for those claimants who are:
- existing claimants;
- Welsh speakers;
- deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired;
judged to be vulnerable; or
- those who genuinely need it.
This change has come about as the UK Government claims that interpretation services for jobseekers have been costing the taxpayer around £3 million every year.
- From 28 April 2014, EEA nationals’ spoken English will be tested in England. If a claimant’s English language ability is found to be a barrier to looking for work, the claimant will be expected to improve it.
New claimants will be screened by Jobcentre Plus, and those with poor spoken English will need to take part in local training to improve their language skills and chances of securing and keeping a job.
Claimants will be expected to improve their English language skills within six months, and sanctions will apply if claimants refuse to attend or do not show they are making an effort to improve their skills.
- From 1 July 2014, EEA nationals will have to wait three months before they can claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. After such nationals have met the three-month residence requirement, they will also need to demonstrate that they meet the normal eligibility rules before they can claim either benefit.
Penningtons Manches LLP’s immigration team has extensive experience with EEA-related immigration matters, including applications for family permits, retained rights of residence, and naturalisation. For more information, please contact Pat Saini, Hazar-El-Chamaa or Penny Salmon.
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