FRONTLINELaw Centre (NI) social welfare law quarterly
NEw bENEFITs & Tax cREdIT RaTEsbENEFIT capNI advIcE sERvIcEs cONsORTIumhOusINg EquaLITy campaIgNsOcIaL mEdIa aNd EmpLOymENT Law
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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
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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).
Kevin HigginsAdvice NIPl CallaghanCitizens AdviceSharon GearyHousing Rights ServiceGrinne McKeeverUniversity of UlsterUrsula O'Hare, Patricia Carty and Jennifer GreenfieldLaw Centre (NI)
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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.
OpEN sEasON ON mIgRaNTs aNd bENEFITs
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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: www.lawcentreni.org/news/recent-news/38-featured-slideshow/1066-migrants-and-benefits-a-new-guide.html
The guide and other Law Centre publications on migrant workers rights is also available here: www.lawcentreni.org/publications/migrant-workers.html
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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