G is a Dutch national, originally from Somalia. She came to live in the UK in 2003 to exercise her right to work here. Since arriving in the UK, G has always worked full time. The only gaps in her employment have been as a result of a work contract coming to an end and the time it took for G to find alternative employment.
G has worked as a cleaner, in factories, for the National Health Service and local authorities. She has paid tax and National Insurance.
As an EU national, the rules about G's benefit entitlement are very complicated. The law about who has the right to reside in the UK for the purposes of welfare benefits is complex and ever-changing and they also vary depending on what benefit is being claimed. In general, EU nationals are only entitled to benefit in the UK if they can show that they are 'workers' or 'work seekers'.
G would be entitled to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) because she would still be seen as a worker or a work seeker while she was claiming this benefit. But if she were to make a claim for Income Support as a single parent, the law might not be on her side.
Nine months ago, G became pregnant for the first time. She carried on working but her employer decided not to renew her contract when it expired despite the fact that she was a hard and punctual worker and did a lot of overtime. G made a claim for JSA while she was seeking other employment. Her claim for JSA was successful as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was satisfied that G was still a worker / work seeker for the purposes of her claim.
In October 2011, when G was 29 weeks pregnant, she was told by the DWP that she was no longer entitled to JSA as she could no longer meet the qualifying conditions, namely that she was available for work. This was because she was seen as being too heavily pregnant. G immediately made a claim for Income Support on the basis that she was heavily pregnant and that she would soon be a single parent. Her claim was not successful because it was decided that she did not have the right to reside in the UK for the purposes of her Income Support claim.
G made her claim for Income Support at the beginning of October. The decision about her claim was made on 25th November. She has had no income since her JSA was stopped.
G is being assisted with an appeal against the decision about her Income Support claim. However, appeals relating to the right to reside are notoriously slow. G is due to give birth at any moment. If she was in receipt of Income Support, she would also be entitled to certain maternity payments from the Social Fund which would benefit her greatly.
Also, because G's JSA was stopped, this will almost certainly result in the suspension of her Housing Benefit meaning that she could lose her home.
G's only option while she is in the process of appealing the Income Support decision is to try to make a new claim for JSA. She will find it very difficult to convince the DWP that she satisfies the conditions for this benefit as she will need to show that she is available for work which is a very hard thing for a heavily pregnant woman to prove.
The fact that it is only women who find themselves in this situation is wrong. A male EU national who has a child can carry on working or make a claim for JSA thus enjoying his worker status for the duration. G, however, is being penalised and discriminated against because she is a woman; the law says that women who become pregnant and who can not work as a result, do not retain their status as a worker and therefore no longer have the right to reside.
G has worked solidly since her arrival in the UK. She has undertaken challenging work and she has paid her way and made a positive contribution. She slept with a man nine months ago and became pregnant. The father of the child continues to claim JSA and receive full Housing Benefit which, of course is right. But what cannot be right is that fact that, as a result of her pregnancy, G has lost of all her income and all of her rights.
The case continues. G may be referred to social services for assistance under the Children Act when her baby is born.