January 2014 EEA Nationals & UK Benefits

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Regulations restricting the right of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals ('A2 nationals') to work in the UK cease to apply from 1.1.14. This means that from 1.1.14 A2 nationals will have the same EU rights to reside in the UK as any other EEA national.

However, as many of you will have seen in the news, the government is planning further restrictions on benefits for EEA migrants.

In a press release dated 31 December 2013, the DWP highlights changes coming into force from 1 January 2014 including:
A three month residence test for jobseeker's allowance (JSA). The new guidance advises -
With effect from 1 January 2014 (in addition to the right to reside requirement) an income-based JSA claimant (who is not in the exempt group) cannot be treated as habitually resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland unless that claimant has been living in any of those places for the past three months (the 'three month rule'). Where this condition is not met, such a claimant will be a person from abroad and not entitled to income-based JSA. Where the three month rule condition is met and the claimant has a qualifying right to reside, the decision maker will need to go on to consider whether the claimant is actually habitually resident

'A stronger, more robust' habitual residence test for those claiming income based JSA after three months and

The requirement that, after six months on JSA, claimants provide 'compelling evidence that they have a genuine chance of finding work' in order to continue to receive benefit.
The DWP goes on to say that further planned reforms, which will be brought in over the next year, include ensuring that new EEA job seekers will be unable to access housing benefit, and introducing an earnings threshold to trigger a test which will check that someone isn’t claiming to have, or have had, a job, or be self-employed to access benefits.

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