Any assessment requires further enquiries and checking of information. When speaking to third parties always ensure you do this in a GDPR compliant way.
Consider if there are any signs of modern slavery or human trafficking
Human trafficking is the fastest growing international crime and there are clear links between trafficking, modern slavery and homelessness.
Homeless Link has produced helpful guidance for frontline services that offers practical suggestions on how to raise awareness, respond to risks and support the people you work with.
Eligibility for support within the UK
Unless the client is adamant they do not want to remain in the UK, you should always explore options in the UK as well as abroad. This is especially important during the Brexit process as decisions to leave now could impact on rights to return to the UK in the future.
It is important to remember that, under the Brexit transition arrangements, EU citizens who are already established in the UK continue to enjoy the same rights as before. This means they have the right to claim benefits and seek help with rehousing if they meet the requirements of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016.
This means that clients who are citizens of those countries can claim benefits if they meet the definition of:
- A worker under Reg 6(1)(b).
- A self-employed person under Reg 6(1)(c).
- Someone who has stopped working or being self-employed temporarily due to illness, as provided for in Reg 6(2)(a). ‘Temporary’ means that the illness is not expected to be permanent. People who stop work because they become permanently incapable of work are also covered if they have lived in the UK for at least 2 years when it happens.
- Someone who has stopped working and become involuntarily unemployed, is looking for work and has a genuine prospect of finding work as provided for in Reg 6(2)(b) and (c). The longer the unemployment lasts, the more difficult it is to demonstrate a prospect of finding work.
Right to reside is also available for:
- EU citizens who are Jobseekers, but this status does NOT permit claims for Universal Credit.
- Students and self-employed people, but this only applies to those with private health insurance, so generally does not help our clients.
In brief, EU citizens who are working, or who worked in the UK in the past but had to stop, may have the right to reside under the I(EEA) Regs. Those who have never worked in the UK probably will not. Please be aware that legislation is complex and seek the support from benefits advisors if needed.
The Brexit transition arrangements do not take away rights from an EU citizen who already has them. In order to protect their status in the long-term, EEA or Swiss citizens living in the UK should apply to the settlement scheme. Applicants to the scheme may be granted either:
- Pre-settled status if they have been living in the UK for less than five years. This status does not give any right to benefits or housing in itself, but those who have rights under the I(EEA) Regs (see above) will keep them.
- Settled status if they have been living in the UK for at least five years. Settled status gives the right to claim benefits and help with housing, without needing to establish past activity. This will make benefit claims much easier for EEA and Swiss citizens who have no history of paid work in the UK.
Access to good quality, regulated advice on immigration is essential to enable people to understand their rights and entitlements under the EU settlement Scheme. Information on how clients can access support from regulated immigration advisers or solicitors can be found in the Brexit section of this guide.
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 to 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.
Eligibility for support in the country of origin
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.
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.
However remember you do not need to rely on the consulate for support. It can be quicker and more effective to go straight to support agencies, local councils or districts in the home country and ask them for support.
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 homogeneous 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. Consulates can usually help to ascertain these entitlements too.
- 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.