BENEFITS EXPERT: As a non-EU citizen are there any benefits I can claim in the UK?
Q. I am a non-UK, non-EU citizen with visa restrictions, I must seek Home Office permission to work and have no recourse to public funds.
I have recently been made redundant and cannot currently obtain further work as I'm awaiting The Home Office to renew my right to work. I understand I cannot claim benefits in this situation, however I have been in UK employment for nearly 4 years and have paid Income Tax and National Insurance. Are there any benefits I might be entitled to claim in this situation.
A. You should consider making a claim for contribution based benefits, in your situation the two that would be available would be either New Style Job Seekers Allowance or New Style Employment & Support Allowance. Contribution based benefits are NOT public funds for the purposes of your immigration status. If you have paid Class One National Insurance during your periods of employment we will assume you will meet the contributions conditions. One potential problem you may have is if you decide to claim JSA is that you normally must be available for and actively seeking work. As your current right to work is under review this MAY cause difficulties as you would not be able to work if a job came up whilst waiting for Home Office approval. This is something you could discuss with a work coach and it is possible that given current difficulties they may be lenient in applying the condition. Alternatively if you have any health conditions, even short term, that may mean you are unable to work then New Style ESA may be a better option as there is no job seeking requirement. The rate of benefit is the same for both, currently £74.35/week. The ESA may increase after you have had a work capability assessment. Also New Style ESA is payable for at least 12 months (longer if you are in The Support Group) whereas New Style JSA will end after 6 months of payment.
Unfortunately other forms of help for other expenses such as rent, council tax, etc. wouldn't be available as Housing Benefit, Universal Credit and Council Tax Support (other than the single persons discount) are classed as public funds, so even if your JSA or ESA claim is successful it would not then entitle you to get additional help. The No Recourse To Public Funds Rule has been raised as a concern in Parliament as a significant number of Non-UK/Non-EU citizens have been unable to work during lockdown and have not been able to get support. To date there has been no indication that this rule will be waived temporarily so as always keep an eye on any future developments. The rule only applies to people requiring a visa to enter the UK, currently EU citizens do not fall foul of the rule but may still be ineligible for benefits for other reasons.