EU settlement scheme: DWP updates rules on pension & benefit entitlement for EEA citizens

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Brexit has allowed the UK to leave the EU and the terms of this are set out in the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Following the exit, the UK Government set up the EU Settlement Scheme which allows EU, EEA or Swiss citizens to apply to stay in the UK, in turn granting access to state benefits, pensions and NHS services.

In February, the Home Office announced the scheme had hit the milestone of five million applications, a good four months before the June deadline.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, welcomed the news: “It is fantastic news that over five million people have applied to the hugely successful EU Settlement Scheme.

“It’s the biggest scheme of its kind in UK history and will mean European citizens and their families can continue to call the UK home.”

Today, the DWP updated their guidance on the benefits and pensions rules for European citizens living in the UK.

This specifically concerned the ability to report a complaint to the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements.

The IMA for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements protects the rights of EU and EEA European Free Trade Area (EFTA) citizens in the UK and Gibraltar.

It’s purpose is to monitor how public bodies in the UK and Gibraltar implement and apply the citizens’ rights provisions in these jurisdictions.

The DWP highlighted that the IMA is independent of the Government.

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Their update detailed: “If you think you have not been treated in accordance with the citizens’ rights provisions of the agreements, you can report this to the IMA for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements.

“The IMA cannot resolve individual issues or overturn decisions made about your benefit or tax credit claims.

“You should send your complaint to the relevant Government department.

“If you disagree with a decision about your benefit, you can ask for the DWP to look at the decision again (mandatory reconsideration).

“If you disagree with a decision about your child benefit or tax credits, you should ask HMRC to look again at the decision.”

EU Settlement Scheme applicants will be given settled or pre-settled status, both of which will allow applicants to:

  • Work in the UK
  • Use the NHS for free, if they can at the moment
  • Enrol in education or study in the UK
  • Access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if they’re eligible for them
  • Travel in and out of the UK

According to Citizens Advice, EU citizens will need to provide proof of certain elements of their lives for each benefit they apply for, which includes:

  • They have settled status, pre-settled status or the right to claim benefits in the UK – this is called a “right to reside”
  • The UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is their main home and they plan to stay – this is known as being “habitually resident”
  • They meet other criteria for the benefit they’re claiming – for example they earn less than a certain amount or they’re ill

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