Any assessment requires further enquiries and checking of information. Where possible, involve EEA nationals in this process, this will both ensure they feel engaged in the process and will overcome issues of consent when speaking to 3rd parties.
Eligibility for support within the UK:
EEA nationals who have been in the UK for less than 5 years may have an entitlement to welfare benefits through Jobcentre Plus, Housing Benefit, contributory-related benefits and housing assistance through Local Authorities. But there are a number of factors that will influence whether they have this entitlement. Homeless Link have provided guidance to support agencies in understanding access to these entitlements:
- It may be helpful to support contact with Job Centre Plus. If a claim is refused, a Mandatory Reconsideration can be requested. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/appealing-against-a-benefits-decision
- If an individual has been in employment or has been self-employed while in the UK then it is possible to contact HMRC in order to access their records of employment and contribution. Please note, that this may take some time. This information is useful in supporting anyone seeking a to make a claim for Employment-related benefits.
If you consider that a person is vulnerable and has eligible needs under the Care Act 2014 then a care act assessment can be requested. EEA nationals who are rough sleeping, may not be considered not have a place of ‘ordinary residence,’ but the act makes clear that a local authority has a duty to meet the eligible needs of an adult physically present in its area who has no settled residence. In these cases seek legal advice.
Access to good quality, regulated advice on immigration is essential to enable people to understand their rights and entitlements. It is important specific advice is only provided by an organisation or practitioner who is regulated by The Office of the Immigration Services Commission (OISC) or an immigration solicitor. www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-immigration-services-commissioner
Eligibility for support within Home Countries
It is important that following and during ongoing assessment that you carry out detailed checks to ascertain what rights to entitlement and support EEA migrants have in their home countries.
In common with the UK, EEA countries usually operate using local connection rules. It is therefore important to check a person’s connection to a particular district or region and the services available there. EEA migrants may have a perception that there are no services in their home area to support them, but this may have changed in the years since they left their home country, so it is important that your enquiries help to inform them of this . If you have case studies or examples of previous successes (with consent or anonymised) then sharing these can be a useful way of illustrating the options available.
FEANTSA have recently published a comparison of local connection rules across 14 EU Countries that helps to demonstrate this. http://www.feantsaresearch.org/IMG/pdf/feantsa-studies_05_web.pdf
Working with UK consulates for EEA countries
A good place to start will be to contact the relevant Consulate. Consulates may be useful for:
- providing Emergency Travel Documents
- requesting police checks
- contacting somebody’s family here and in the home country
- helping you to understand the national systems for housing or welfare and directing you to local councils or support organisations
- support with translating official documents
Links to the Consulates contact details are here
Don’t be deterred from bypassing the consulate in order to support people from EEA countries – for example going straight to support agencies, local councils or districts. It is often quicker and faster for partners in home countries to organise checks and order paperwork. Work with local partners where possible.
Contacting local councils or services
What is available in each country, and indeed area, across EEA will vary significantly, so supporting an EEA migrant to understand what their local rights and entitlements needs to take place on a case-by-case basis. It is possible to contact and refer to a range of services, including: temporary accommodation, social services, and drug or alcohol treatment.
Don’t treat countries as homogenous as there will be localised eligibility and roles. Look for resources in the specific area or district that someone last resided in; the local council may be able to check and confirm someone’s last residency and what help can be offered. Many organisations have websites containing details of their services; therefore, a good place to contact is via an internet search.
When contacting local councils or services in EEA counties it is important to:
- Explain clearly who you are and the purpose of your organisation, without making assumptions that this will be known about already.
- Be prepared to explain the person’s lack of entitlement in London and the UK, why they are not able to access services in the UK and what you have done to check for this.
- Be mindful of the tone of your approach and be clear about the intention to provide support to help a vulnerable person to move off of the street. The concept of ‘reconnection’ may sound offensive for services in EEA countries if it is seen as the removal of people in a discriminatory way.
- Take steps to understand the social care entitlement rules in each country and area and the amount of contribution an individual has made through work. In some countries, i.e. Slovakia this information is held centrally, in other countries, such as Poland, contributions are recorded at a local level. Most countries provide a national insurance or tax number to enable these checks to be made.
- Describe an individual’s personal resources and vulnerabilities, as well as any risks and set out what you need to support a move away from rough sleeping and what you are able to offer to help facilitate this.
- Bear in mind that making a referral using this route may require communicating with staff in the national language, although it is also very possible that you can find people who speak English.