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Positive change in social security policy

Law Centre NI welcomes a new, interim policy, which has been introduced in Northern Ireland regarding EU citizens with ‘pre-settled status’ who need to claim social security benefits.

The change in policy means that any EU citizen with pre-settled status and unable to work – perhaps due to disability or caring responsibilities – will be assessed individually to establish whether they are living in hardship and unable to meet their most basic needs.  If the assessment shows that there is a risk that the person – or their children – cannot live in dignified conditions because of their financial circumstances, then they will be entitled to Universal Credit.

An actual risk of not being able to live in dignified conditions means a risk of being without – even temporarily – sufficient resources to have adequate food, clothing and accommodation (including heating).

Background to this policy

Law Centre NI’s landmark case CG v DfC (C-709/20), which came before the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2021, involved our client ‘CG’, an EU citizen with pre-settled status living in Northern Ireland.  CG had been denied state support after fleeing a violent partner and became trapped in destitution with her children.

Litigation flowed throughout the UK, following our ‘CG’ case.

In one such case, SSWP v AT [2022] UKUT 330 (AAC)*, against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, it was ruled that an individual assessment is necessary in every case before refusing someone access to social security benefits.

As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions has introduced this new change of policy for EU citizens with pre-settled status as an interim measure (while it appeals the decision).

The Department for Communities has confirmed to the Law Centre that the interim policy change will be implemented in Northern Ireland also.

Our social security team can provide further advice.  You can contact them on 028 9024 4401 or email

Read more about Law Centre NI’s CG case here.