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1 July, 2020 Open access

Government temporarily suspends provisions that prevent local authorities from providing emergency housing support to certain EEA rough sleepers

Housing Minister confirms that EEA rough sleepers who can show they are jobseeking will be able to access non-statutory housing support such as hostel accommodation until December 2020

The government has confirmed it has temporarily suspended provisions that prevent local authorities from providing emergency housing support to certain EEA rough sleepers.

In a letter to local authority chief executives published yesterday (dated 24 June 2020), Housing Minister Luke Hall acknowledges local authorities' concerns that some of the EEA nationals currently accommodated across England under the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency approach to rough sleepers, have limited move-on options because they are excluded from accessing non-statutory homelessness services due to the UK’s derogation from EU equal treatment rules.

NB - the UK currently applies an exemption (derogation) under Article 24(2) of the Free Movement Directive (Directive  2004/38/EC) from the requirement for equal treatment between UK and EEA citizens who are exercising free movement rights as ‘jobseekers’ and during their initial three months in the UK.

Highlighting that the government has already suspended the derogation from September 2019 in areas with concentrated numbers of EEA nationals who were sleeping rough - in Greater London, Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes - Mr Hall says that -

‘Following the success of this approach and in recognition of the ongoing challenges faced by local authorities, the government will now be extending these powers nationally as of 24 June 2020. These powers will allow local authorities to support certain EEA nationals who are not eligible for other types of support until the end of the transition period (31 December 2020).’

While Mr Hall notes that the approach does not extend to statutory services or welfare benefits, he advises local authorities that -

‘It means that job seeking, EEA national rough sleepers who meet the criteria, will be eligible for your non-statutory homelessness services, such as hostels, on the same basis as those who are currently eligible for these services e.g. UK national rough sleepers and EEA national workers.. It does not provide them with priority over UK national rough sleepers and accommodation and support is limited to a maximum of three months.’

NB - annexes to the letter provide further information on the suspension of the derogation and the eligibility rules for accessing support.

Mr Hall’s letter to local authority chief executives is available from gov.uk