IMA reaches second early case resolution with local authority over EU citizens’ housing access

Public bodies ,

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) has reached a second early case resolution with a local authority over EU citizens’ access to social housing support.

In May 2021 the IMA received information about the way in which Newham Council had written to EU, EEA and EFTA citizens within its borough who were registered on its housing waiting list. The letter asked for evidence of Pre-Settled or Settled Status by a specified date and stated the council planned to remove citizens who did not produce evidence of status.

The letter failed to account for EU citizens who may have had pending applications to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and should therefore have had their rights protected until an outcome was reached.

The IMA was concerned about the potential for systemic issues to arise and launched a pre-inquiry investigation and engaged with the council to seek confirmation of its working practices.

Newham Council was helpful in providing information and confirmed that it would not remove any EU, EEA and EFTA citizens from the housing waiting list who have made valid in time and late applications under the EUSS, and whose applications have yet to be determined. In addition, Newham Council confirmed those citizens will remain on the housing register until their applications have been determined by appeal or administrative review in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement and in line with guidance issued by central government.

The council also responded positively to a proposal for improvement which included an agreement to send a follow-up letter to the same group of EU, EEA & EFTA citizens on the housing list to clarify the council’s position on safeguarding their rights and apologise for any misunderstanding created by the earlier letter.

The early case resolution follows a similar intervention relating to EU citizens’ access to social housing by Pembrokeshire County Council.

The IMA will continue to monitor Newham Council’s compliance with the actions in order to ensure citizens’ rights are upheld.

Pam Everett, Director of Operational Delivery at the IMA said:

“It is encouraging that Newham Council has been so proactive in its response to proposals made by the IMA regarding this issue. “Housing support appears to be a particular area where extra care is needed to ensure citizens continue to enjoy the rights they are entitled to as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. The IMA will continue to monitor this issue closely and work with public bodies to improve awareness of their duties and make sure they are implementing citizens’ rights effectively.”