Navigating migrants' rights in the shadow of Brexit | CPAG

Navigating migrants' rights in the shadow of Brexit

Published on: 
22 September 2017
Written by: 

Rebecca Walker
Freelance welfare rights adviser

This guest blog is from Rebecca Walker, author of the immigration and residence chapters of the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook, lead author of the Benefits for Migrants Handbook and architect of the Right to Reside Flowchart Poster.

With Brexit looming the rights of migrants are being widely discussed, but finding accurate information about what benefit entitlements migrants currently have can be hard. The latest, fully updated edition of The Benefits for Migrants Handbook provides this information comprehensively, and is available now. This Handbook covers all the rules about social security benefit entitlements when a claimant has moved to the UK, and/or is not British, or is going abroad. It also provides an overview of immigration law and information on asylum support.

At a time of huge uncertainty about the future rights of European nationals and their family members, it is important to stress that the Brexit referendum has not yet caused any changes to benefit entitlements. European law continues to apply, and social security entitlements, which are determined by both EU and domestic law, remain unaffected.

However both European and domestic law are nevertheless constantly changing and it is essential for migrants and their advisers to keep up to date with these changes and their implications. The general direction of domestic legislation in recent years has been to restrict migrants’ entitlements to benefits, often with devastating consequences for migrants and their families. However, caselaw developments, both at the European and domestic level, have been more mixed. On the positive side there have been several cases confirming that particular restrictions are unlawful and, at least in certain circumstances, must be disapplied. In addition, the last few years have seen a developing body of case-law providing guidance on how specific provisions under the EU co-ordination rules should operate in practice.

The latest edition of the Benefits for Migrants Handbook has been fully revised and updated to include all legislative and caselaw developments as well as possible challenges to restrictions. It also covers tactical information - for example on how to satisfy evidence requirements when a claimant’s right to reside is based on the residence rights of someone else, such as a working family member.

Navigating the right to reside maze

Satisfying the right to reside requirement continues to be a major barrier for European nationals and their family members who need to claim benefits. With the roll out of universal credit, the need to identify when a European national has a right to reside other than as a jobseeker is becoming more essential than ever. The Benefits for Migrants Handbook sets out in detail who has a right to reside, taking account of new regulations and the caselaw developments in this complex area.

To help navigate the maze of residence rules, CPAG has also produced an accompanying flowchart that takes you through a series of yes or no questions to indicate the main residence rights the claimant may have, and which benefits they may therefore be able to claim. The flowchart cross refers to the page or chapter in the Benefits for Migrants Handbook for you to check the details of the relevant rules. The flowchart is available as an A2 poster and has been updated to be used alongside the latest edition of the Benefits for Migrants Handbook.

Find out more about the latest edition of the Benefits for Migrants Handbookand the Right to Reside Flowchart Poster and order your copies today.