§ Mr. Churchill
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reasons foreigners entering the United Kingdom immediately qualify for social security benefits; which other EC countries have a similar policy; and if he will now take steps to amend the recent United Kingdom situation so as to require a minimum of six months' residence to qualify for benefit.
§ Mr. Burt
In general, income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit are not available to people who come from outside the European Economic Area. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced yesterday new regulations which will reduce eligibility further. From 1 August claimants to these benefits will have to satisfy a habitual residence test, unless they are workers, refugees or given exceptional leave to remain in this country. The qualifying conditions for other social security benefits vary but are usually dependant on a contribution condition. Eligibility conditions for income-related safety net benefits in other EEA countries vary widely, but most have a residence condition, the changes announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, yesterday bring us into line with them.