A BUDDING filmmaker who has lived in York almost all his life has been refused JobSeekers’ Allowance – because he is not considered an habitual UK resident.
British-born Tim Hall has been hit by new rules aimed at preventing EU migrants from taking advantage of the benefits system.
Mr Hall, 26, of Green Lane, Acomb, went on a four-month internship to Brussels last autumn to build on his skills and improve his career prospects, he said.
When he returned, he was out of work and applied for JSA, only to be told by Jobcentreplus he was not entitled to it.
An official said in a letter: “This is because we have decided that, for benefit purposes only, you’re not considered to be habitually resident in the UK.”
The letter went on to say that as an ‘EEA national,’ his right to reside as a JobSeeker would be limited to six months unless he could provide evidence he was continuing to seek work and had a genuine chance of work.
Mr Hall said he was shocked by the letter and had appealed, but had heard nothing yet.
Mr Hall said: “I couldn’t believe it. I went to Brussels thinking it would eventually help me find work back in the UK but now I seem to have been penalised for doing this.
“Fortunately, I live at home with my mother and she will ensure I can eat and get by, but what would I be meant to do if I was living on my own?”
The Leeds Metropolitan University film-making graduate worked in the Belgian capital for the Leonardo Mobility Programme, which is funded by the EU Commission.
It aims to give participants an understanding of sustainability-related projects while also developing their employability skills and helping them gain experience abroad.
Mr Hall said he wondered whether he had been caught up in a new Government drive to prevent EU migrants coming to the UK and immediately claiming benefits, and this was confirmed by the Department for Work and Pensions.
A spokesman said it was “absolutely right” that strict rules were in place to protect the British benefits system and make sure it was not abused.
“As has always been the case, anyone who chooses to live in another country for a long period of time and so isn’t contributing in Britain must, if they return to the UK and want to claim benefits, prove that they have strong ties to this country in order to pass the Habitual Residence Test,” he said.
“The new rules, which came into force on January 1, mean that someone has to be living in this country for three months before they can take the Habitual Residence Test.
“The rules apply to migrants from all EEA countries coming here to look for work, including British nationals returning to the UK after a period living abroad.”
York Central MP Hugh Bayley said Mr Hall’s case was the second of that nature he had been made aware of.
He said: “I have spoken to Steve Webb [minister for the DWP] to warn him that these new regulations will hit as many British people as foreigners. He has said he will look at it, but I have not heard back from him.
"The Government seems more interested in stopping people’s entitlement to benefits, because that makes unemployment figures look lower, than in trying to operate a fair system that supports people who have paid National Insurance for years, if and when they become unemployed.”