Govan Law Centre (GLC) has assisted an EEA (European Economic Area) family who had been doing fine in until they had to leave their accommodation in Glasgow.
Many EU (European Union) citizens in Scotland are on the UK national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour. The cost of living crisis has exacerbated the cost of private sector rents which are unaffordable for most low paid workers.
The clients had been referred to GLC by Positive Action in Housing’s Migrant Project. GLC raised an urgent petition for judicial review in the Court of Session challenging the local authority’s refusal to provide homelessness assistance.
The council refused help as they considered the family subject to immigration control under section 119 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. However, the family had applied late to EU Settled Status (EUSS) and had a Home Office “Certificate of Application”. This is the formal document the Home Office issue while they examine a settlement scheme application.
It advises while an EUSS application is pending a person can: “live in the UK; work-once your employer has verified your certificate of application with the Home Office; study; use the National Health Service in a similar way to permanent UK residents; access public funds such as benefits and pensions, if you are eligible for them; and access a current account with a bank or building society in the UK”.
The law here is complex. In our view, a person with pre-settled status – including an active application – can continue to use their free movement rights to qualify for housing or homelessness services.
This is because such rights are saved in law under a Brexit Statutory Instrument (SI 2020/1309) for up five years after 30 June 2020, until a person qualifies for EU settled status.
So long as a person with a Certificate of Application for pre-settled status continues to meet the conditions for a right to reside – including being a jobseeker or worker – they are not “subject to immigration control” for section 119 of the 1999 Act and qualify for housing or homelessness services.
In the GLC case, the EU family were subsequently accommodated by the local authority to the great relief of all concerned.
It’s unfortunate the Scottish Government’s 2019 statutory Code of Guidance on Homelessness is out of date on this area of law – its Chapter 12 on EEA citizens has simply been deleted.
If in doubt, take advice from a local law centre or firm of immigration law solicitors.