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Court of Appeal dismisses ESA / EU jobseeker appeal

21st April 2016

In a judgment handed down today (Alhashem v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] EWCA Civ 395), the Court of Appeal has accepted that jobseekers from other Member States are not entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (“ESA”). Julia Smyth successfully represented the Secretary of State.

The Appellant, represented by Helen Mountfield QC and Tom Royston, had argued that ESA was a labour market benefit, such that jobseekers from other Member States ought to be able to claim it. Domestic regulations prevent them from doing so. The Court of Appeal accepted the Secretary of State’s submissions that the Court of Justice of the European Union had taken a narrow approach to what was a labour market benefit, and that ESA’s predominant function was to provide a subsistence income for those with limited capability to work, rather than to “facilitate access to the labour market” in the EU law sense.

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