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EU takes on UK over benefit residence test

30 May 2013

UK Government ministers have pledged to fight legal proceedings begun by the European Commission over the residency test applied to welfare benefit claimants.

The EU claims that UK rules applied to migrants discriminate against EU nationals who claim social security after working in this country.

It is said that the right-to-reside test goes further than permitted by EU law, which lays down a standard test for eligibility to benefit by claimants from another member state.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the case would be fought "every step of the way".

The test, introduced by the Labour Government at the time of EU enlargement in 2004, looks at whether a person is economically active or able to support themselves and their family.

The EU-approved test previously applied took account of the claimant's length of time in the UK, employment prospects, reasons for coming to the country, and future intentions.

Mr Duncan Smith said he would not "cave in", accusing the Commission of trying to "water down" measures to protect British taxpayers, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Government was very confident it had a good case.

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