Barriers to Social Welfare

Report
Migrants’ Barriers to Social
Welfare
01st March 2012
Nasc, The Irish Immigrant Support Centre (Fiona Hurley)
01st March 2012
www.nascireland.org
Nasc – The Irish Immigrant Support
Centre
 Nasc – the Irish Immigrant Support Centre is an NGO
that seeks to respond to the needs of immigrants,
refugees and asylum seekers.
 Nasc is the Irish word for ‘link’ – We link migrants to their
rights.
 Our vision: To contribute to an environment of social
inclusion for all communities, based on the principles of
of equality, social justice and human rights.
 Reuniting families
 Reconnecting Communities
 Reforming legislation
‘Person or Number?’ – Issues faced by
Immigrants Accessing Social Protection
 Snapshot of 54 cases presenting to 6 NGOs nationally
 Report published by Crosscare, Doras Luimni and Nasc – the Irish
Immigrant Support Centre
 Available for download from http://www.nascireland.org/
Barriers Identified in ‘Person or
Number?’
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Poor information provision and adversarial approaches
Decisions based on speculation
Processing delays
Inappropriate, aggressive and racist language
Misapplication of the HRC
Domestic Violence
Lack of understanding of Immigration status
Failure to grant Exceptional Needs payments in situations of
urgency
 Fear of refusal of citizenship
 Homelessness
The Habitual Residence Condition
 Failure to apply the exemption from HRC determination to EEA
workers
 Failure to look at the full facts of the case under the Swaddling
criteria
 Temporary Absences from the State
 HRC simply stated as a reason for refusal without giving more
specific reasoning
Case Study: Toms
Toms
Toms is from Latvia and came to Ireland for the first time in 2005.
After working for five months with a construction company he was
made redundant, he then spent another nine months working and
studying in Ireland before returning temporarily to Latvia. He
returned to Ireland in 2007 and has been resident in Ireland since
then. Toms had three different periods of employment in Ireland
following his return – one for three months, one for four months and
one for fourteen months. When his last job finished in 2010 he
applied for Jobseekers Allowance and SWA - both applications were
refused on HRC grounds even though as an EEA worker he was
entitled to an SWA payment. At the time of writing Toms was
homeless.
High rate of decisions overturned on
appeal
YEAR
No. Of HRC Appeals
Decisions
Appeals
Upheld/Partially
Upheld
Appeals
Disallowed
2011
4,146
747
3,399
2012
5,549
2,369
3,180
Parliamentary Questions: Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan
Burton) Question 394 on the 21st February 2012
Person or Number? Habitual
Residence Condition recommendations
 Drawing on data from the Social Welfare Appeals Office, it is
recommended that the Department of Social Protection undertakes
a detailed and published examination of allowed HRC appeals on a
periodic basis. Specific approaches and deficiencies evident in the
practice of departmental staff in allowed HRC appeals need to be
collated in detail and addressed comprehensively at front line level
on a regular basis. Annual targets for proper implementation of the
HRC should be set, based on allowed and disallowed HRC appeal
decisions from the Social Welfare Appeals Office.
 The departmental guidelines on the HRC exemption for EEA
workers must be urgently revised, for they are currently misleading
and inaccurate.
 The guidelines for temporary absence from the State must be
significantly augmented and written for service user access. More
detail as to specific required actions of service users must be
provided. The absences currently allowed do not reflect the reality of
immigrants’ lives. These guidelines should be reviewed in
conjunction with immigrants and immigrant NGOs and circulated
widely and advertised clearly. It is also recommended that the
guidelines are translated into key foreign languages.
 The ‘temporary absence from the State’ guidelines must specifically
clarify what temporary absences from the State do not affect the
Habitual Residence Condition.
 The HRC1 Form should be revised to ensure that applicants are
specifically invited to address each of the five factors that a deciding
officer is obliged to consider.
Case Study Domestic Violence:
Laima
 Laima is from Lithuania. She has two children aged five and ten
years old. She came to Ireland in 2007 to join her partner, who was
working. Laima found a job for four months. Things were going well
in the beginning but her partner started partying and drinking with
his friends. Then abuse started: her partner was calling her names,
humiliating her in front of other people and not giving her money for
food & clothing.
 She separated from him in January 2009 and continued to look for
some work. She applied for One Parent Family (OPF) Payment after
they separated. Not long after, her partner broke the front door of
where she was staying and threatened her. Laima went to an NGO
for support. At that stage Laima’s apartment was in rent arrears and
the ESB bill was unpaid. One day she came home and found that
electricity was cut off. She had to move to a homeless women’s
hostel with her two children.
 The CWO officer attached to the local homeless hostel met Laima
and gave her a one-off SWA payment stating that she was not
habitually resident in the State. Even though the officer was
sympathetic to Laima’s case, she said she could not pay anything
after that as per her superintendent’s direction. She was still getting
Child Benefit and was paying rent for the homeless hostel out of her
Child Benefit money. She was still looking for a job and doing
different courses to improve her chances of employment. Her OPF
claim was refused based on the fact that she was not considered
habitually resident. Her Child Benefit was also cut in April 2010 as
she was seen as not habitually resident. She could not afford to
leave the homeless hostel until December 2010 when her Child
Benefit was finally restored and back-dated. She had to stay in a
homeless hostel for sixteen months with two children. In February
2011 she was finally granted her OPF after a long battle. The NGO
in question worked with Laima intensively for one and a half years in
order for her to get the supports she was always entitled to
Case Study: Domestic Violence
Emilia
 Emilia came to Ireland from Poland four years ago to join her
husband who was working in Ireland. She had her first baby here
and was a full-time mother. She wanted to find work and learn
English but her husband did not like that idea and tried to stop her
from doing that. Her husband was violent towards her and assaulted
Emilia on many occasions. She had to call the Gardaí many times
and she made a statement to the Gardaí on one occasion. Emilia
eventually decided to leave her husband. Firstly she wanted to know
if she would get help if she was on her own. She went to her local
Social Welfare Office to see if she would get any support if she left
her husband. She was told that she would not get any help because
she had no work record in Ireland and so she went to a local NGO.
Emilia believed that she and her daughter would become homeless
if she left her husband so she has stayed living with him.

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