A GOVERNMENT Minister has agreed to take up the case of two York men who were refused JobSeekers’ Allowance (JSA) after returning from working abroad.

The Press reported recently how British-born Tim Hall, who has lived in Acomb almost all his life, had been hit by new rules aimed at preventing EU migrants from taking advantage of the benefits system.

The 26-year-old went on a four-month internship to Brussels last autumn to build on his skills and improve his career prospects, but found on his return he was barred from claiming the benefit because he was not considered to be “habitually resident in the UK”.

York Central MP Hugh Bayley has now raised his case, and that of another York man, Simon Pollintine, in the Commons.

The MP said Mr Pollintine, 36, formerly of Haxby, but now of Fishergate, returned to the UK last September after living and working in Italy for nine years.

He became unemployed in December, but had not received any JSA, while Jobcentre Plus continued to make inquiries to see whether he satisfied the habitual residence test.

Mr Bayley asked Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith: “Did the Government mean to penalise UK citizens who go abroad to get off the UK unemployment register, and is not that exactly the wrong signal to give? Will the Secretary of State change the regulations?”

Mr Duncan Smith said the Government was bringing forward tougher sanctions on people who come to Britain just to take benefits, rather than to work.

He said: “Of course, British citizens working abroad are more likely to have gone abroad with a strong work record in the UK, so when they come back that is taken into account.

“If the honourable gentleman is worried about a particular case, perhaps he would like to write to me and I will take it up.”

Mr Bayley claimed later in a letter to the Minister that the Government had “botched” the new rules, so British citizens would now lose the right to benefits when they came home after working abroad, even though many of them had paid taxes and national insurance in the UK for years.

He said: “It is quite wrong to penalise them for using their initiative to find jobs abroad.”