The Quickest Way to Eligibility for EEA Nationals
In this post, I want to show a way around the eligibility tests that exploits a little known loophole that is very easy to use and unlikely to ever be closed.
Eligibility is a complex and confusing area of law - even to those who specialise in it. The part that governs eligibility for housing however, is generally fairly straightforward (comparatively!). In the Get Housed book, I mostly deal with eligibility for EEA nationals, because they are the most common group of clients that you will be using eligibility legislation for. In the Get Housed book, there are some simple flow charts that break down assessing eligibility very easily.
If you or a client is an EEA national the first step in gaining a full housing duty is to demonstrate eligibility for housing. Note that this is not necessarily the same as being eligible for public funds. One can be eligible for the latter but not for the former. Eligibility for housing is its own specific test, usually revolving around worker status. Gaining worker status has its own set of tests but there is a much simpler way for any EEA National to gain eligibility for housing immediately.
In short, the quickest way for any EEA national to become eligible for housing, no matter how short a time they have been here, is to simply become a Big Issue seller. That’s all there is to it. They will then be considered to be self-employed and therefore eligible for housing.
The background to this is really interesting. If you do a Google search for "romainian big issue seller housing benefit" you will be presented with how this case hit the mainstream media. Likewise if you just search for the person's name: 'Firuta Vasile'. Her case concerned an application for Housing Benefit. She claimed that she was self employed because she was selling the Big Issue. In Get Housed, I go into the characteristics of self employment in more depth but it appears that selling the Big Issue is a very simple way around all the usual hurdles to demonstrating self employment.
You can read the Big Issue's own guidance on this here: https://goo.gl/beXAvJ Essentially, it comes across to me as being very cleverly written to tread an absolute middle line between Big Issues sellers being employed by the Big Issue and Self Employed; the conditions contain elements of both tests. Tricksy. Yet in this case, the court found that Firuta Vasile was, as a Big Issue seller, self employed. That made her an EEA National who is here to carry out a self employed business. In this case, that being selling the Big Issue magazine.
This loophole certainly wasn't intended as a loophole. It was intended to give enterprising EEA Nationals who wanted to come here to set up businesses an open door to do so, getting them around all of the restrictions placed on ordinary migrant 'Workers'. This Big Issue case however made it into a huge loophole which any EEA National can now exploit very easily.
Interestingly, while the Upper Tribunal Course case is not technically binding on other authorities, Bristol Council could find no grounds of law on which to appeal this case and so therefore, neither will any other local authority when faced with a similar case.
You can view the legal documents here: https://goo.gl/mKB51I as a word doc or on line at https://goo.gl/uI6Q5e
The internal memo of the committee meeting in Bristol Council that discussed this case used to be on BCC's website but is not currently available. It can be found however in the torrent files downloadable to accompany the book.