Britons caught in migrant benefit crackdown

 

Gap-year students and other people who go abroad for an extended period are being denied jobseeker’s allowance payments for three months after they return, under a new rule brought in to stop welfare tourism from other European Union countries.

A change to the “habitual residence test” was introduced on 1 January when visa restrictions on immigration from Romania and Bulgaria were dropped.

At the time, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said people were “rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country, and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system”.

However Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, pointed out that the rule-change was also affecting some British people who go overseas for more than three months.

“British-born citizens who have been travelling, doing internships or living abroad temporarily shouldn't be treated in the same way as those coming into our country for the first time,” she told The Guardian.

“Habitual residency rules should be about making sure people who are new arrivals to the UK, and have not yet made any contribution or commitment to this country, do not claim benefits they are not entitled to. British citizens are in a completely different situation, and the government should recognise that.”

Rosie Smith, 24, and her boyfriend Alexi Dimond, 29, from Sheffield, spent six months doing voluntary work in Thailand, then returned to the UK to discover they were not able to claim benefits.

“I thought it was outrageous really. I've contributed tax for the last six years working for the NHS. I think it's ridiculous I'm not entitled to anything,” Mr Dimond said, adding that he was relying on friends for food. Ms Smith has moved in with her parents.

A 25-year-old who returned after a year in the Netherlands studying for a master’s degree in psychology was also refused jobseeker’s allowance.

“I think if you're looking for work you should get jobseeker's allowance. That's what makes sense,“ the man said. He is living with his parents and using savings to travel for job interviews. He said the rule was unfair on those “who don't have that support”.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said people who had paid “enough” National Insurance did not have to wait three months, but did not respond when asked by The Guardian how much was required.

“It has always been the case that any UK national who chooses to live or work in another country for an extended period must, if they return to the UK and want to claim benefits, satisfy the habitual residence test by proving they have strong ties to the country and want to remain here,” the spokesman said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Teachers required for Cambridge Primary positions Jan 2015

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in Cambridge...

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Geography Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher - ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain