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Spring 2014 issue: Separated children, Modern slavery bill, Welfare reform, Benefit cap, NIASC, Budget 2014, Housing equality, Care homes, Benefit rates 2014-2015

Text of Frontline 91

  • FRONTLINELaw Centre (NI) social welfare law quarterly

    91spRINg 2014

    sEpaRaTEd chILdREN

    NEw bENEFITs & Tax cREdIT RaTEsbENEFIT capNI advIcE sERvIcEs cONsORTIumhOusINg EquaLITy campaIgNsOcIaL mEdIa aNd EmpLOymENT Law

  • 2 | Frontline | Spring 2014

    Freephone 0800 343424 orwrite to: The Ombudsman, Freepost bEL 1478, belfast bT1 6bR

    Email to:

    website: or

    complained to a government department or agency, health service provider or oth-

    er public body?

    want to find out more?


    The Ombudsman provides a free and in-dependent service for the investigation of

    such complaints

    still not happy?

  • Frontline | Spring 2014 | 3


    editorialMigrants and benefits 4

    newsSpeedmatching event 5

    Migrants and benefits guide 5

    Womens Aid helpline 7

    Fund for migrants 13

    featuresSeparated children 6

    Modern slavery bill 8

    The work of NIASC 10

    Budget 2014 11

    Benefit cap 12

    Welfare reform round up 14

    Benefit rates 2014-15 16

    Care homes 19

    Housing equality campaign 29

    practitioner Equality Commission 22

    Employment update 24

    Social security update 26

    reviews Employment tribunals / 29 Human rights

    Discrimination claims / 30 Judicial review proceedings

    Dementia and the law 31


    EditorCatherine Couvertdesign & Layout Michael W Beggscover photo: Zzvet

    Law Centre (NI) 2014

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored on any retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, including photocopying/recording, without prior written permission of Law Centre (NI).

    Editorial/advertising 124 Donegall Street, Belfast, BT1 2GYTel: 028 9024 4401Fax: 028 9023 6340Textphone: 028 9023 9938Email: admin.belfast@lawcentreni.orgTwitter: @LawCentreNIWebsite:

    IssN 0962 - 8800Frontline is published four times per year by Law Centre (NI). It aims to provide a forum for information, analysis and opinion on matters relating to welfare law and allied social policy issues. Views expressed in the magazine should not be taken to be those of Law Centre (NI).

    Editorial panel

    Kevin HigginsAdvice NIPl CallaghanCitizens AdviceSharon GearyHousing Rights ServiceGrinne McKeeverUniversity of UlsterUrsula O'Hare, Patricia Carty and Jennifer GreenfieldLaw Centre (NI)


    Law Centre

    Frontline is available in large print on request from our publications unit. Phone: 028 9024 4401 or email:


  • 4 | Frontline | Spring 2014


    Evidence based policy has been sacrificed at the altar of high politics. sadly, Eu migrants and uK nationals returning from abroad will be the ones picking up the pieces.

    Second, EU migrants who lose employment will find it harder to receive certain means-tested benefits. In effect, EU migrants who have worked less than twelve months will normally only be able to claim Income-based Jobseekers Allowance for six months, those migrants working for between twelve months and five years will have to provide compelling evidence of a genuine prospect of work to retain Income-based JSA after six months. The guidance on what comprises genuine prospects of work has still to be written. To date, the only formal suggestion from the Department for Work and Pensions is that such evidence would be a written job offer with a start date setting the bar very high indeed.

    From 1 March 2014, new guidance has been introduced to determine which EU migrants retain worker status (one of the ways in which the right to reside can be automatically satisfied) for the purposes of the habitual residence test. Claimants earning more that 150 a week will be deemed to satisfy the test while those earning less through employment or self employment will be subject to further scrutiny. In European law, work entails activities that are genuine and effective and not marginal and ancillary. This definition has been liberally and flexibly interpreted by the Court of Justice in the European Union. It remains to be seen how the Social Security Agency decision makers interpret the issue.

    Finally, the government has curtailed access to Housing Benefit for certain EU migrants from 1 April 2014. EEA jobseekers who are not already on Income-based JSA before 1 April 2014 will be affected

    It appears to be an open season to make life difficult for EU migrants. Despite seven years notice of Bulgarian and Roman-

    ians becoming full members of the European Union, the government waited until the last minute to tighten up further access to social security benefits. As it is no longer possible within European law to introduce changes affecting Bulgarians and Romanians, the changes affect European Union nationals as a whole.

    First, from 1 January 2014 the habitual residence test has been amended to require both EU nationals and returning UK nationals to have been living in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man for three months. Ironically, this is likely to have a greater impact on returning UK nationals. The habitual residence test already incorporated the concept of living in the UK for an appreciable period before becoming entitled to key means tested benefits. Based on caselaw, this could be between one to three months normally or almost immediately in exceptional circumstances for those who had lived in the UK before. The loss of flexibility will mean that UK nationals returning in an emergency following a death abroad or to care for family members, coming back from voluntary service overseas, after a gap year or after working abroad are likely to have to wait three months before receiving benefit.

    by the proposals. In practice, jobseekers on Income-based JSA will no longer automatically receive Housing Benefit. The Equality Impact Assessment published by DWP shows that of 300,000 EU nationals registering for national insurance numbers in 2011/2012 only 3,000 subsequently claimed Housing Benefit as jobseekers. Moreover we do not know how many of the 3,000 worked before having to claim as jobseekers. These figures undermine the notion of the EU benefit tourist.

    It is significant that the initial reforms and the proposed Housing Benefit changes were signalled through articles by David Cameron in the Financial Times and Ian Duncan Smith and Theresa May in the Daily Mail rather than brought through normal parliamentary procedures.

    The speed and paucity of detailed information behind these reforms suggest that evidence based policy has been sacrificed at the altar of high politics on the European Union as Britain gets ready for an election. Sadly, EU migrants and UK nationals returning from abroad will be the ones picking up the pieces.

    Les Allamby

    OpEN sEasON ON mIgRaNTs aNd bENEFITs

  • Frontline | Spring 2014 | 5


    migrants and benefits: a useful addition to an advisers toolboxMigrants and Benefits, an advisers guide, is a new publication by Law Centre (NI) produced as part of our partnership with Belfast Integration and Participation Project.

    A comprehensive but concise guide written in plain English, Migrants and Benefits addresses the following questions, as well as other common issues that arise when migrants need advice on benefit entitlement:

    How does immigration status affect wa persons entitlement to benefit?

    What is habitual residence? w

    What does right to reside mean wfor benefit entitlement?

    An important tool for advisers dealing with this complex area of work, Migrants and Benefits contains

    tips for dealing with difficult situations and practical guidance.

    You can download the new guide or read it on screen here:

    The guide and other Law Centre publications on migrant workers rights is also available here:

    As this is a complex area of law, if any questions arise in specific cases that cannot be answered simply through reading the guide, please contact the Law Centres advice line: 9024 4401, Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 1.00pm.

    The annual speedmatching event run by Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, Law Centre (NI) and View Digital and supported by the National Union of Journal-ists took place at the Law Centre on 27 February.

    Speedmatching involves community and voluntary sector groups each getting five minutes with a local journalist or media producer, and using those five minutes to pitch story ideas and talk about their work.

    Eight community organizations made contact with producers and reporters from the BBC, including education correspondent Maggie Taggart, as well as local papers and specialist publications.

    Elizabeth Hendron, PR coordinator at NICVA, explained: By only giving groups five minutes it really helps communications workers in the sector get to grips with the idea that you need to be able to quickly and clearly sell in your story to the

    media. We hope that tonight is just a first step, and that the organisations that took part are able to follow up with the contacts they made and use them to get more media coverage and support for the work we do.

    media speedmatching event a big success for local groupsFeedback was very positive and

    plans are being made for another speedmatching session later in the year.

    With thanks to NICVA, View Digital and NUJ.

    speedmatching event at the Law centre. Photo Michal Marie.

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