As Lord Palmerstone might have said: “Only three people have ever really understood this eligibility business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.” That, frankly, sums up my (and, I suspect, your*) view of eligibility and Part 7, Housing Act 1996.
Sadly, as all housing lawyers know, it’s impossible to understand homelessness law these days without also having a basic grasp of immigration law and, of course, the rights of EU nationals. Since 2004, there has been (in effect) a two-tier system for EU nationals, with nationals of the A8 states (Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia) and the A2 states (Romania and Bulgaria) having various restrictions imposed on them.
The restrictions on the A8 states are, broadly, a requirement to comply with the Worker Registration Scheme and, if they’re in the UK otherwise than in accordance with the scheme (subject, as always, to exceptions), then they’ve got no right to reside and, hence, are not eligible for assistance under Pt 7, Housing Act 1996.
The restrictions in the WRS were part of a temporary package of measures approved when the A8 joined the EU. That temporary package expires on May 1, 2011 and cannot be renewed. Accordingly, an SI has been made which will bring the WRS restrictions to an end (subject to transitional provisions): see the Accession (Immigration and Worker Registration) (Revocation, Saving and Consequential Provisions) Order 2011. The position is that, from May 1, 2011, A8 nationals are to be treated like other EU nationals.
*except Toby and Adrian