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Further proposals to restrict migrants’ access to benefits

Published Friday, March 20, 2015

In his keynote speech on immigration on 28 November 2014, the Prime Minister set out plans to secure agreement on changes to European law on free movement of persons in order to allow the UK to, among other things, deny EEA migrants in-work benefits for four years and prevent Child Benefit being paid for children living abroad. Proposals to further restrict EEA migrants’ access to benefits have also been put forward by Labour and by the Liberal Democrats.

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Since the beginning of 2014 a number of measures have been introduced limiting access to benefits for migrants coming to the UK from elsewhere in the European Economic Area (EEA). People arriving in the UK looking for work now have to wait three months before they can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit. EEA jobseekers and former workers must now satisfy a new, strict “genuine prospect of work” test in order to continue to receive their benefits. EEA jobseekers can no longer access Housing Benefit, even if they are in receipt of JSA, and will be prevented from claiming Universal Credit. Further information can be found in Library briefing SN06889, Measures to limit migrants’ access to benefits.

In his keynote speech on immigration on 28 November 2014, the Prime Minister set out plans to secure agreement on changes to European law on free movement of persons in order to allow the UK to, among other things, deny EEA migrants in-work benefits for four years and prevent Child Benefit being paid for children living abroad. Proposals to further restrict EEA migrants’ access to benefits have also been put forward by Labour and by the Liberal Democrats.

This briefing looks at the proposals that have been put forward by all three parties, and at some of the obstacles in existing EU law to implementing them. A separate Library briefing, Reforming the EU: UK plans, proposals and prospects, considers the likelihood of agreement being reached on reforming the principle of free movement throughout the EU, to achieve the Prime Minister’s vision of “free movement to take up work, not free benefits.”

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