Advice Nottingham has a slot on Kemet Radio every third Thursday of the month! Advisors from advice agencies across the city will be appearing on the mid-morning show.
Fiona Cameron, EU Settlement officer at Nottingham Law Centre spoke to Christine on the mid-morning show about the EU Settlement scheme for all EU nationals living in the UK.
What is the EU Settlement scheme?
The Home Office have launched a scheme for EU citizens to apply for settled status in the UK. They want EU citizens to continue to work in the UK and be able to access benefits and healthcare. Nottingham Law Centre has received funding to provide this free service for people who need extra support when making an application. The deadline for applying is 31st December 2020, however, the settlement scheme to help people apply is only funded until March 2020.
Until Brexit happens, EU citizens don’t need to have ‘leave to remain’, as we have ‘freedom of movement’, however, as soon as Brexit happens ‘freedom of movement’ will end. If you haven’t got immigration status beyond being an EU Citizen, then you can apply for the EU Settlement scheme. You can also apply if you are the dependent of an EU Citizen, for example, if you are from outside of the EU, but married to someone from an EU country (other than the UK), you would still need to apply. The Home Office has been very explicit that they are looking for reasons to grant settled status, which is encouraging.
Do I have to apply if I already have permanent residence as an EU citizen?
Yes, you need to transfer that status from EU law to UK law in order to retain your rights. The only people who do not need to apply are those who have already been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, and even then it might be beneficial to apply. If you are in any doubt, please check.
How can I apply?
Any EU citizen in the UK can apply. If you’ve been in the UK for 5 years or more you will be given ‘settled status’, if you been here for less than 5 years you will be given ‘pre-settled’ status. To apply, you’ll have to complete three tests, 1 – identity, 2 – residency and 3 – criminality. The Home Office is unlikely to approve EU Citizens with ‘persistent and serious criminality.’
To pass the identity test you will need to have a valid passport or national identity card, ideally with a chip in it. Ideally to prove your residency you will have a National Insurance number, but if you don’t you’ll need to provide other evidence to having been in the UK. This could be employment records, school records, tenancy agreements, utility bills, bank account statements. You don’t have to have been working here, just resident. We’ve been working with homeless people and the government is happy to accept letters from charities who’ve supported them as evidence. If your passport has run out, then it is advisable to reapply as soon as you can, however, you can often prove identity via a national identity card so long as it is in date. We hope that you will be able to complete your application online but in some cases it may be necessary to send your documents to the Home Office. However, they should be returned to you within a short time period.
What will happen if you don’t apply?
It’s impossible to say at this stage, however, I would say it’s vital to secure your immigration status and to apply to the scheme. We know from the Windrush Situation how important it is to secure immigration status and that not having status could mean that you will lose your rights within the UK, so it’s crucial people apply. Ultimately, lack of status could lead to loss of rights to work, claim benefits and access education and medical care. In really serious cases, having no immigration status can lead to destitution, detention and deportation. We’ve seen lots of people who think because they’ve been in the UK for a long time and that they have children born here they won’t be affected, but you do need to regularise your status.
What happens if there’s a no-deal Brexit?
With a no-deal Brexit ‘freedom of movement’ would end immediately. EU citizens coming in after a no-deal Brexit happens would not be eligible for the settlement scheme. After this there will be another scheme in place which will grant ‘temporary leave’ and this will be slightly different and carry different rights to it. Under a no-deal Brexit there would be a change in the criminality test. At the moment, that test is done under EU law, that would change and revert back to UK law, although that wouldn’t be a huge change.
How do I apply?
If you have a straightforward claim, have reasonable English and are computer literate, you should be able to do the process yourself, that’s the idea. However, for people who have come across immigration red tape before they may be very nervous about the process, even if they feel they can apply independently. We would never turn anyone away just because they seem to be very competent.
If you need help or just have a query get in touch. We have translators available and Immigration advisors (up to level 2). The application and our services are free.
Call: 07801 755949
Drop in: Every Friday at Hyson Green Youth Club, NG7 6ER, 10.30 – 4.30pm
The process is very quick, and you should get a response from the Home Office within days, and if you don’t get the status you are expecting, you can apply again with additional information.
Martyn Neal appeared on Thursday 19th September to talk about Meadows Advice Group and their work.
Sue Foster appeared on Thursday 15th August to talk about Bestwood Advice Centre and their work.
📻 Sue from Bestwood Advice will be on @KemetFM's mid-morning show from 11-12pm today.— Advice Nottingham (@AdviceNottm) August 15, 2019
Sue will be talking about #debt and answering lots of common concerns. If you're worried about #debt, or want to hear some of Sue’s favourites tunes, listen in at 👉 https://t.co/RjxcB46fYJ pic.twitter.com/lWm1zUojCd
Sally Marshall appeared on Thursday 18th July to talk about the St Anns Advice Centre and their work.
What is Universal Credit?
Universal Credit is the government’s new benefits system which covers Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.
Some important things to remember:
- Payments are monthly and there’s an initial assessment period of 5 weeks before the first payment
- Advance payments can be applied for, however, repayments for the advance will be taken as soon as the Universal Credit award is paid
- Third-party deductions are taken from Universal Credit payments; these deductions can be up to 40% (30% from October)
- Universal Credit does not include Council Tax reduction, you’ll need to apply for this as well
GET HELP: If you need help to make a claim for Universal Credit contact Citizens Advice Nottingham & District’s Help to Claim service www.citizensadvicenottingham.org.uk/help-to-claim
What if you have a health condition?
Personal Independent Payment (PIP) is the replacement for Disability Living Allowance and is payable if you have personal care or mobility needs. Payable to adults, 16 years to pension age. Pension age is going up so be aware of this as you may still be eligible due to the pension age going up. PIP is payable to people with physical conditions, mental health conditions, learning difficulties, or sensory impairment. It’s awarded if you need help to manage your condition and it’s not taxable, so for instance, you can be in employment or be unemployed. We can help with applying for the benefit, mandatory reconsiderations and appeals/tribunals.
What if you are sick?
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is included in Universal Credit, however, there is still a version of ESA available outside of Universal Credit. This is called New-Style ESA (contribution based), this would be for someone who has just finished work and who has been working for two years and therefore has National Insurance contributions. New-style ESA is not means-tested. If you’re not eligible for this, you’ll need to apply for Universal Credit which includes ESA.
What happens if you are self-employed and become unwell?
If you are unwell and self-employed, under Universal Credit your payments should adjust according to your earnings. Therefore, if one month you earn less than another, Universal Credit will be topped up.
The benefits system is incredibly complex, so do get advice. Many people don’t seek advice because they feel they should be able to understand benefits paperwork, but even advisors with many years’ experience find it difficult to navigate. Often, it’s about form filling and evidencing why you need support. We understand the forms and what the DWP needs to see to secure a positive decision. So, see a welfare benefits advisor to get support. Details here
Can you check your welfare benefits entitlement?
You can see an advisor or do a benefits check online at www.entitledto.co.uk/
Can you check your national insurance contributions?
You can check online here https://www.gov.uk/check-national-insurance-record
You can check pension age and pension record here https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension
Sally Denton kicked off our series of interviews for Kemet radio. Sally met Christine at Kemet Radio on Thursday 20th June to talk about the Nottingham Law Centre and their work, particularly around Housing.
A wet afterrnoon in #Nottingham ☔️ and Sally from @NottinghamLC is visiting Christine at @KemetFM for a chat about our new slot on the radio 📻— Advice Nottingham (@AdviceNottm) June 7, 2019
Tune in on Thurs 20th June - 11-12pm to hear about Nottingham Law Centre, #housing, and one or two of Sally's favourite tunes 🎸 pic.twitter.com/6XeWjtz1rc
Q: My landlord has come around and left me a note telling me I need to leave my property at the weekend
A: If you’re a tenant of a property you can’t be evicted without a court order, so you don’t have to leave based on your landlord sending you a note or text message, for example. If you feel it’s likely the landlord going to come and change the locks, then we can apply to the court for an injunction order to stop them doing that, so get in touch.
Q: I’ve received court papers for a possession hearing from a local housing association, I am concerned because I am not currently in receipt of any income. I’ve lived at the property for 10 years and I’ve don’t have anywhere else to go?
A: Usually as a housing association tenant, you will have an Assured Tenancy. There are three grounds for possession with Assured Tenancies. For tenants with rent arrears, the first one is mandatory grounds for possession, in this case the court has to make a court order, but housing associations don’t generally rely on that. They usually issue discretionary grounds which means that the court not only has to be satisfied that you’ve got rent arrears, but also that it would be reasonable for a possession order to be made.
Quite often, the courts will say it isn’t reasonable to make an order for possession against a tenant because they’ve either got housing benefit issues, or they’re waiting for benefit payments, like Universal Credit. Then we can get the case adjourned, so we have time to sort it out and when the case comes back to court it might be that the rent arrears have been cleared because the housing benefit payment came through, or benefit payment have arrived. Therefore, the issue is resolved. Or it could be that the tenant has still got some remaining rent arrears, but they can demonstrate that they can pay their rent and something towards the arrears to avoid possession on that basis.
Q: I’m not sure what tenancy I have, and I’m not sure I have my tenancy agreement, can you still help?
A: Yes, we can find out what kind of tenancy you have and what the agreement says, and often we can get that from the court papers themselves. Don’t make that a reason to not get in touch.
Q: I am in rent arrears and I’ve received an eviction notice from the bailiffs? I had a suspended order from the courts, but I haven’t kept up with the payments.
A: This notice will be from the court and it will say that the bailiffs are coming at a particular time and date and that the bailiffs will change the locks. This is the day the tenant has been ordered to leave the property. In this case, the court does still have power to suspend that eviction and can use its powers if it’s reasonable to do so. The court will only do that is if it satisfied that the tenant is able to recommence rent payments and understands why the tenant hasn’t been making payments. For example, if a tenant has lost their job and now has a new job, or a tenant is waiting for benefits and they have now come through, or if there are personal circumstances which have made it incredibly difficult for the tenant to pay.
Although people are often told to not open the door if a bailiff visits, this is different for eviction notices. In these cases, bailiffs are only interested in taking possession of the property and changing the locks. They will call the police if the tenant doesn’t leave the property.
Q: I have a claim for possession for rent arrears, but I haven’t paid the rent because my landlord hasn’t been doing repairs.
A: All landlords have a duty to undertake certain repairs. The structure, outside of the property, heating, sanitation, hot water and drainage are all the responsibility of the landlord. This duty is triggered as soon as the tenant notifies the landlord of the issue.
Often, we see tenants who have been issued eviction notices because of rent arrears, however, when we investigate further, we see that the tenants have been struggling with disrepair for a long time. They’ve repeatedly complained to their landlord, but nothing’s been done. In those circumstances, we bring that claim of disrepair into the claim for the possession as a counter claim and then, if we’re successful in getting compensation for the disrepair, it can be offset against the rent arrears. You will need to prove you’ve made the landlord aware of the need for repairs, either in writing, even through a text message, so do keep records.
Q: I am homeless, or about to become homeless, can the council help me?
A: In Nottingham City, there are two routes to go down. One option is to apply to HomeLink – Nottingham City Council’s allocations service, which lists NCC properties and those of several other housing associations. It’s open to anyone, however, they will prioritize according to housing need. The council may exclude you from the waiting list if they believe you are adequately housed, and we are seeing many applications turned down because of this. The other route is to make a Homeless Persons application. The local authority has a duty to people to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, but they have a number of criteria to decide what duty they owe to you. Because there is a lack of supply of housing in Nottingham City we are seeing people being refused help and we’ve had to challenge those decisions. Again, please do get in touch with us if you need support with this.
Q: I rent a house and when I moved in the garden was extremely messy, with old furniture, rubbish and even mattresses covering the garden. Who’s responsible for clearing this?
A: It’s not within the landlord’s list of responsibilities (as listed before), however you are entitled to have use of that garden as part of your tenancy agreement. If it’s full of rubbish, and you can’t use it, you might be able to argue that that the landlord isn’t giving you what you’ve paid for.
Q: Are the Nottingham Law Centre’s services free?
A: Yes they are!
- If you make any payments to your landlord (i.e deposits, rent in advance) always get a written record
- If you make rent payments in cash, always get receipts
- Make sure you have the full contact details for your landlord, including name, address, telephone number. You are legally entitled to have those details
- Keep a record of any contact with your landlord, particularly in relation to disrepair, you will need to evidence telling the landlord about disrepair in the property