/ Money

What are the new rules for UK Benefits and the EU?

Are you affected by new rules for UK benefits that started on 1 January 2021? Our guest, the Department for Work and Pensions, explains what’s changed.

A trade deal agreed between the UK and the EU came into effect on 1 January 2021. Which? analysed the deal to explain what it means for you here.

The UK Government summary and full 1,246-page deal text is also available to read.

Here, the Department for Work and Pensions has set out changes to benefits since 1 January. Are you affected by the new rules?

This is a guest post by the Department for Work and Pensions. All views expressed are its own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

If you retire to the EU

You can carry on receiving your UK State Pension if you move to live in the EU and you can still claim your UK State Pension from EU countries. Check the qualifying conditions.

Your UK State Pension will be increased each year in the EU in line with the rate paid in the UK. 

If you move to work in the EU

You can also count relevant social security contributions made in EU countries towards meeting the qualifying conditions for a UK State Pension.

Workers moving between the UK and the EU can be assured that you will only have to pay social security contributions in one state at a time.

Other UK Benefits and the EU

EU citizens living in the UK

EU citizens, and their families who were living in the UK by 31 December 2020, should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living, working, studying, and accessing benefits in the UK after 30 June 2021.

It is free to apply to the scheme and if your application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status. You will be able to view your status and prove it to someone else online. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. Irish citizens do not need to apply, but can if they want to.

The process of applying to the EU Settlement Scheme is different if you have a permanent residence document or indefinite leave to enter or remain, and you may not need to apply. However, you will still need to retain your evidence for any future claims.

UK nationals planning to move to the EU

The rules on receiving some UK benefits in the EU have changed. There are new rules on benefits for those who move to the EU now or in the future, with the exception of UK and Irish nationals who move between the UK and Ireland. 

Check which benefits you can get abroad before moving. 

Have you checked how the new rules affect you and your family?

Use the Brexit checker tool at gov.uk/transition for a personalised list of actions for you and your family. 

This was a guest post by the Department for Work and Pensions. All views expressed were its own and not necessarily shared by Which?.

Have you been affected by any of the changes made to UK Benefits?


Isn’t the above section “If you move to work in the EU” a bit of a moot point, after the British government nastily removed British citizens’ right to work throughout a union of 31 EU and EFTA independent sovereign states with effect from 1st January 2021?

From what I’ve heard, I think we now need to get work permits before we can work in EU countries.

I think that is a real shame, as I have previously enjoyed working with colleagues from many EU countries.

It’s all part of the “take back control of our borders” message that was one of the more persuasive policies of the Leave campaign during the referendum. It cuts both ways, of course, but I think we knew that.

Derek, you are correct about work permits. The problem is that work permits are possible only for employment by an employer in the EEA. Work permits are impossible and impractical for consultants for example, who often supply services to clients at very short notice, either employed by a UK employer or self-employed.

John, you are correct. But the mantra about taking back control of borders didn’t work out. Although the Leave campaign wanted to impose a visa requirement on Eastern EU nationals by the UK taking control of its borders, Article VSTV.1(2) of Boris’s thin trade agreement states “in the event that the United Kingdom decides to impose a visa requirement for short-term visits on nationals of a Member State, that requirement shall apply to the nationals of all Member States“.

Therefore if the UK decides to impose a visa requirement on Bulgarians or Romanians for example, then it must impose the same visa requirement on French, Spanish, Germans and Irish for example. The UK would never impose a visa requirement on the last four nationalities for many obvious reasons, not least a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Of course, the Leave campaign confused control of borders (Schengen, Common Travel Area etc) with the right to work (known as “freedom of movement” of labour). But that doesn’t mean that the UK now controls its borders in a way that it didn’t as an EU member.

NFH, thanks for that detail about consultancy. I can see that having a lot of negative effects for our national GDP, as well as for the incomes and careers of those who work in that sector.