“Time bomb” warning on migrant welfare cut

12 June 2014

Sector experts are warning of a homelessness “time bomb” because increasing numbers of European migrants will lose their “transitional protection” for housing benefit over the coming months.

Thousands of people are at risk of losing their housing benefit as a result of government reforms that are being led by work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which removed housing benefit for all new EU claimants from April 2014.

Although many existing EU claimants are under “transitional protection” meaning that they will continue to receive housing benefit until the next break in their claim, which would occur, for example, if the person is sanctioned, moves to another area or finds work. After a break, these claimants would lose their housing benefit if they are unemployed and will only be able to claim for another six months if they have previously worked.

Therefore, thousands of migrants who are protected will, at some point, lose their right to housing benefit, which has caused concern for homelessness organisations and hostel operators. For example, one hostel manager described the situation as “a ticking time bomb.”

Councils have no legal duty to help EEA nationals who become homeless. The government estimates in its own impact assessment that 23 per cent of those affected will be families with children.