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How we help: pregnancy, Income Support and the right to reside

We represented a Europan woman who had been refused Income Support and lost her Housing Benefit in the late stages of pregnancy. As she already had a child who was not yet in school, this had left her in a very precarious situation.

She had lost her job last autumn and had been awarded Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). A few weeks before her child was due to be born, her JSA was terminated and she was told to apply for Income Support, as the rules on availability for work mean that a woman in late stages of pregnancy cannot be entitled to JSA.

Her claim for Income Support was refused and she was told that she did not satisfy the residence requirements for this benefit. Her Housing Benefit was suspended as a result. She already had a child who was not yet in school.

We contacted Decision Making Services and supplied some evidence including sick notes from her GP saying she was incapable of work because of the birth of her child.  We argued that she had retained her worker status because she was temporarily incapable of work on the grounds of pregnancy. We based our argument on the recent decision of Saint Prix v SSWP, which stated that a woman who gives up work or seeking work because of the physical constraints of the later stages of pregnancy and the aftermath of childbirth retains the status of ‘worker’ under Article 45 of the 2006 EEA Regulations, provided she finds work again within a reasonable period of time.

The Regulations “must be interpreted as meaning that a woman who gives up work, or seeking work, because of the physical constraints of the late stages of pregnancy and the aftermath of pregnancy and the aftermath of child birth retains the status of ‘worker’, provided she returns to work or finds another job within a reasonable period of time after the birth of her child.”

The Department agreed and revised the Income Support decision, and Housing Benefit was also reinstated.

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