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COLUMN: Losing Your UK Benefits After Brexit

Updated: May 8, 2023

The British Benevolent Fund has over a century of providing emergency financial relief for Britons in Spain who have no other resource – to find solutions for people who are in a desperate situation and who see no way out.

Money can't buy love but it can be an enabler for people who have found themselves in difficulties.

Many of the cases these cases are triggered by illnesses, breakdown in relationships, loss of jobs and bereavement.

Into that mix comes Brexit, which for some Britons who have been living in Spain means that if they are not resident under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, they have to face the prospect of being classified as illegally staying in Spain.

If that wasn't enough – for vulnerable people – many of whom are advanced in years means that they no longer have access to Spanish state support and healthcare that they might have been eligible for before.

This means some difficult decisions for those who need care, housing, and support to return to the UK where many have not lived for years if not decades.

Many are under the illusion that they will be automatically entitled to UK benefits including crucially access to housing.

The UK's welcome for returning vulnerable Britons is far from what the extends to other nationalities.

The Habitual Residency Test means that a returning British national may have to wait for up to 3 months before they can be eligible.

The BBF will help those who have no other resources, and we are increasingly being asked to help them in the UK while their applications are processed.

These are people who have long lost touch with their networks at home and could face homelessness on arrival without our support.

One such is Tom, a 60-year-old Briton who left the UK nearly 40 years ago and has been told by his local authority that he can only apply for housing and other benefits when he arrives.

He has multiple medical issues which need continual treatment as well as aggressive MS which will mean permanent disability – he needs to get home for treatment – but the Habitual Residence Test means he will have to overcome an enormous hurdle with no income, savings or resources.

We can only help people like Tom with your support – if you would like to help him and others please donate today.

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