Press release

EU jobseekers barred from claiming Universal Credit

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From today (9 March 2015), new EU migrants who have arrived in the UK will be prevented from claiming benefits until they have started work.

The new regulations mean that under Universal Credit no EU households will be able to access means-tested benefits in the UK without having worked here first.

Action has already been taken to halve the amount of time EU jobseekers can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit and means that if they don’t have a job after 3 months they will lose their right to reside in the UK. New migrant jobseekers are also now unable to claim Housing Benefit.

These tough new rules are part of the government’s long-term economic plan to protect the benefits system and ensure EU migrants come to this country for the right reasons and to contribute to the economy.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith said:

Universal Credit is a new benefit that will make work pay and help lift people out of poverty and it is already transforming lives.

As part of the government’s long-term economic plan we have led the way with a series of measures to tackle abuses, tighten immigration routes, and toughen up the rules on access to UK benefits – and we have seen other European countries follow our lead and take similar action.

Our new rules for Universal Credit will ensure we have a fair system where people cannot claim means tested benefits until they have worked.

The department is abolishing 6 existing income-related benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credits

In sharp contrast to the previous system, this government has introduced a number of measures to make sure that the benefit and tax credit system for EU migrants is increasingly focused only on those who contribute through work:

  • all EU jobseekers need to live in the country for at least 3 months before they can claim income-based JSA, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit
  • after 3 months, jobseekers have to take a stronger, more robust Habitual Residence Test if they want to claim income-based JSA
  • after 3 months on Jobseeker’s Allowance, they have a ‘genuine prospect of work’ test – if they do not have an imminent job offer they will lose their benefits and their right to reside in the UK as a jobseeker
  • new migrant jobseekers from the EU are no longer able to claim Housing Benefit
  • migrants from the EU who claim to have been in work or self-employed in order to gain access to a wider range of benefits now face a new robust test to decide whether they should be considered a worker or ex-worker with a minimum earnings threshold

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