EU Citizen’s Rights to Housing Assistance Clarified

by Philip Jackson on August 30, 2016
Philip Jackson

Philip Jackson

The Supreme Court recently ruled that a citizen of another European Union member state who moved to the UK, but was not a worker, jobseeker, student, self-employed or self-sufficient, could validly be denied a right of residence in the UK and could therefore be excluded from a right to income support or to housing assistance as a homeless person.

The case in question related to a woman that had been born in Poland in 1988.  In 2004 she came to the UK with her parents and three siblings.  From April to November 2005 she started work.  In February 2006 she became pregnant.  In April she stopped working and then in August 2006 she claimed income support.  It was argued on behalf of the claimant that she was a “worker”, albeit one whose work was temporarily interrupted owing to her pregnancy, and that European rules indicated that she had the right to reside freely within the EU, and therefore within the UK.  So the denial of income support to her when she needed it to be able to live in the UK was an impermissible interference with that right as she would, in practice, be forced to return to Poland.

On a reading of the relevant EU rules, however, it is clear that it was a significant aim of the Directive that EU nationals from one member state should not be able to exercise their right of residence in another member state so as to become “an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system”.  Because the claimant had not done 12 months’ work in the UK, she could not claim to be a “worker” and because she was not a “jobseeker”, “self-employed”, a “student” or “self-sufficient” it followed that she could be validly denied a right of residence in the UK and therefore could be excluded from social assistance.  The fact that she might have to cease living in the UK to seek assistance in Poland did not assist her argument.  Although the refusal of social assistance might cause her to leave the UK, there would be no question of her being expelled from the UK.

Philip Jackson, a solicitor specialising in immigration work at Kidd Rapinet’s London office, comments “Whilst the EU rules on freedom of movement within the EU are wide ranging, they do not constitute an equivalence of rights of all Citizens on all aspects of living within each EU country”.

If you would like assistance in relation to an immigration matter, call Philip Jackson at Kidd Rapinet on 020 7265 5476 for further information.