Guidance for local housing authorities from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government: Homelessness assistance, restricted cases

The Consequential SI also amends Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, section 185 (4) and (5).

At present, EEA citizens who reside in the UK on the basis of domestic leave, (rather than on the basis of an EU right to reside) who are made eligible for homelessness assistance by our Eligibility Regulations , are permitted to rely on a dependant within their household who is not eligible for housing assistance (typically children) to establish their case for homelessness assistance. This is otherwise known as a restricted case. Other third country nationals who have domestic leave and who have been made eligible by our eligibility rules may not rely on such a dependant in order to make their case for assistance.

The amendment will bring EEA citizens in line with third country nationals, at the point the new immigration rules are introduced in January 2021. However, it will preserve the accrued rights of any lawful EEA citizen resident prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) so they may continue to rely on a dependant who is ineligible.

After 31 December 2020, local authorities will need to be aware of this when assessing eligibility for homelessness assistance.

  1. Changes to Schedule 3 to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

The Regulations include changes to Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”) to bring the position of EEA citizens into line with non-EEA citizens who do not benefit from current free movement arrangements. The effect is that EEA citizens will no longer be explicitly listed as ineligible for assistance under the wider social welfare legislation referenced in the 2002 Act, which includes local authorities’ General Power of Competence under the Localism Act 2011, as well as powers under the Care Act 2014, Children Act 1989 and others.

These changes will be of interest to local housing authorities (LHA) wanting to support EEA citizens experiencing homelessness/rough sleeping in circumstances where the applicant is not eligible for homelessness assistance. For example, this may be because they have pre-settled status but are not eligible for assistance under the eligibility rules (because they are a jobseeker/’Zambrano’ carer) or because they do not have immigration leave and are not seeking asylum (asylum claims made by EU nationals will continue to be treated as inadmissible and ineligible to asylum support unless there are exceptional circumstances).

From 11pm on 31 December 2020, LAs may choose to rely on the changes being made to the NIAA to provide assistance to EEA citizens under the wider social welfare legislation referenced. It will be for the relevant local authority to satisfy itself of the lawfulness of any proposed measures and to consider how such measures may be circumscribed by existing legislation noting, for example, the restrictions set out in s.2 of the Localism Act 2011. LHAs may conclude they have the scope to provide very limited assistance, shelter and support, to those EEA citizens not eligible for homelessness assistance in circumstances where they deem such support is necessary.