Despite the scrapping of the worker registration scheme, benefits remain dependent on work status
On 1 May 2011 the rights of accession state nationals living in the UK, other than Bulgarians and Romanians, changed. Before that date only those nationals who were in work and who had registered with the UK worker registration scheme were eligible for benefits of any kind.
If any such national lost their job they ceased to be eligible for any benefits and, in particular, housing benefit. In some cases, this led to extreme hardship.
Now, the WRS has been abolished and all such nationals have the same rights as other EU nationals. This includes the right to claim benefits and help with homelessness if they lose their job - although there are various caveats and differences between England and Wales.
The effect of these changes on housing associations is likely to be small, in practice, for those associations which let all their true voids to households nominated by the local authority.
However, where there is scope for discretion in regard to associations’ allocations, or where local authority nominees are reliant on housing benefit to pay their rent, associations should note that entitlement to housing benefit is not automatic and that it still depends, to a degree, on work status.
Thus, nationals who have worked in the UK at any time can claim housing benefit provided they are in work, self-employed, temporarily out of work or retired, while workers who have come to the UK to seek work can only claim if they are also entitled to income-based jobseeker’s allowance.
Lynne Murray is partner at TLT