GOV.UK Press Release
New migrant jobseekers from the European Economic Area (EEA) will no longer be able to get Housing Benefit (HB) from April, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith announced today (20 January 2014).
The government is determined to cap welfare and reduce immigration as part of Britain’s long-term economic plan and ministers want to make sure the system is fair for hard-working taxpayers.
From the start of April, new EEA jobseekers will no longer be able to access Housing Benefit if they are claiming income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
This builds on new rules introduced in January which mean EEA migrants cannot claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance until they have been in the country for three months.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
As part of the government’s long-term economic plan we have taken action to make sure our economy delivers for people who want to work hard and play by the rules.
These reforms will ensure we have a fair system – one which provides support for genuine workers and jobseekers, but does not allow people to come to our country and take advantage of our benefits system.
The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country, and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system.
The Housing Benefit changes do not affect UK and Irish Republic nationals, or EEA migrants genuinely self-employed or in a job. EEA nationals who have been working in the UK, and are subsequently made redundant and claim JSA, will not be affected by this measure.
As part of the government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work, a series of reforms have been put in place to make sure migrants wanting to come to this country do everything they can to find a job and stay in work.
Other measures recently introduced include:
From 1 January all EEA jobseekers have to wait for 3 months before they can get income-based JSA. This will make sure that only people who have a clear commitment to the UK and plan to contribute to the economy have access to our welfare system.
After 3 months, jobseekers will also have to take a stronger, more robust Habitual Residence Test if they want to claim income-based JSA.
If they pass the Habitual Residence Test, EEA jobseekers will then only be able to get JSA for 6 months. After 6 months, only those who have a job offer or compelling evidence that they have a genuine chance of finding work will be able to continue claiming.
This week, the government will set out how reforms to welfare and immigration are helping to build a stronger, more competitive, economy that will secure a better future for Britain. Ministers are determined to fix the welfare system to make sure more people can get into work and benefit from the security that a job brings.
Housing Benefit Measure
Excluded from the measure are:
(a) UK nationals and nationals of the Irish Republic
(b) EEA jobseekers with retained worker status (e.g. those who have been recently working and have lost their job involuntarily)
(c) EEA workers/self-employed.
They will all continue to have access to HB.
Research published in August 2013 shows that as of February 2013 over 5.6 million people were claiming DWP working-age benefits. Of these 397,000 (7.0%) are estimated to have been non-UK nationals when they first registered for a NINo. This is an increase of more than 100,000 since 2008 (when the figure was 288,720).