Guidance on Supporting EEA nationals

Tuesday, 29 May 2018 - 1:40pm

European nationals form a significant part of the UK homeless population. 

The back of a man's head wearing a rucksack

Although it is difficult to put an exact figure on numbers of migrants who are homeless, the latest data shows that 33% of rough sleepers in London were from European countries.

Some of these non-UK European nationals have the same rights as other people sleeping rough as UK nationals. Others have very limited or no entitlement to public funds. For homelessness services, evidencing people’s entitlements and supporting those with no entitlements away from the streets can pose a challenge.

Over the next few years, our working environment will evolve and so will the needs of the homeless population. Brexit will present additional challenges in supporting European Economic Area (EEA) homeless migrants. However, we cannot let uncertainty interfere with how we work with our clients, as they need us now more than ever.

To help homelessness agencies in these changing times, The Connection at St Martin’s has updated Homeless Link’s guidance on supporting EEA nationals. The new resources provide an overview of key information, principles and good practice in response to EEA nationals experiencing homelessness:

1. Supporting EEA Nationals in homelessness services 

This overarching guidance helps services to develop an effective support offer, tailored to some of the common needs and circumstances among EEA nationals who find themselves homeless in England. It includes information on the upcoming changes due to Brexit and suggestions on how to prepare your clients and services for these changes. It also contains useful information and best practices on how to support clients into accommodation and treatment. It gives an overview of the support available for those EEA nationals affected by the previous Home Office policy, which treated rough sleeping as a misuse of rights. A Resources section lists relevant organisations, useful websites and other tools.

2. Employment support for EEA nationals 

For many EEA nationals, finding employment will be their main route off the streets. This document provides guidance on employment support in a holistic way. From good practice in supporting EEA nationals to gain employment; to a letter template for challenging employers who refuse to pay someone’s salary. It also includes basic information on employment rights and raising awareness around employment exploitation in other European countries.

3. EEA Consulates and ID list 

Providing ID has become essential for people to make a benefit claim, get a job or return to their home country. This document provides a full list of contact details of all the EEA consulates in the UK and includes useful information on getting ID for those with no income.

4. Entitlements of EEA Nationals 

This document was drafted by welfare benefits specialist Rebecca Walker and offers an overview of entitlements to the main social security benefits focusing on the rules that can cause difficulties for EEA nationals.

5. Timeline of legislative changes on EEA rights 

Finally, this timeline provides an overview of the changes that have affected EEA nationals in the UK from 2004 to 2017. It also contains information on when different European countries joined the EU and when certain restrictions on the rights of EEA nationals in the UK were lifted or imposed.

As homelessness agencies, we need to be able to respond to the homeless community and adapt to their changing needs and circumstances. However, we cannot do this alone.

Two years ago, I joined The Connection to coordinate the charity’s response to the challenges of migrant homelessness. Having developed relationships with migrant and other specialist organisations around London, we now know that the support we provide to our migrant clients can be greatly improved through partnerships.

We fully understand the complexities of supporting homeless EEA clients and, therefore, encourage homelessness agencies to use our new resources to ensure that all clients, regardless of their nationality, get the support and advice they need.

Talk To Us

Lidia Estevez Picon

Lidia Estevez Picon

Migration Policy and Services Coordinator at The Connections at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Lidia is the Migration Policy and Services Coordinator at The Connections at St Martin-in-the-Fields. 

Twitter: @homelesslondon

Related articles