There has been a couple of cases, one’s called Baumbast. There’s been a case called London Borough of Harrow v Ibrahim and it talks about if someone’s a former worker, what their entitlement to benefits is. The Ibrahim case involved a partner of an EU worker who had children. The couple separated and their children had already started school. Their children had already started going to school so their children have rights themselves so the case talks about how a former worker, or partner of a former worker, can derive the right to reside through a child who has the right to education. But our view would be different from the view that the government takes. When we saw the Ibrahim case we thought: “That’s great! Loads of our clients will be able to claim benefits because they have previously been in work.” But after that case came out, we believe that the benefits authorities and tax credits authorities were told: “Wait! Don’t process these claims yet. We need to have a think about how we’re going to deal with them.” And I understand there’s been a circular recently released, I’m not sure if it’s around the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) or the tax office, basically saying that they will only pay benefits in that situation if you’ve been a former worker for more than a year so you’ve gone through that year’s worker registration process. Now, on my reading of the case, I don’t think that’s a consideration, the year’s service, but a cynic might say that the government are trying to restrict the potential claims which isn’t a surprise but there may be further legal challenges. But that just gives you an idea of the sort of labyrinth of difficulties that clients find themselves in, having to work out a way of deriving a right to reside. They may have been here for a long time, they may have been a dependent of a worker which you can see that it’s very difficult for people to work out what they’re entitled to.

  • Lorraine Barrie
Friday 11th June 2010