3.20 Section 77(3) of the Act provides regulation-making powers to set out conditions relating to residence and presence. As Personal Independence Payment is a non means-tested, non-contributory benefit paid out of general taxation, residence and presence conditions are an important part of the eligibility requirements.
3.21 We propose that claimants will need to be present in Great Britain and meet a habitual residence test11. DLA claimants have to be present and ordinarily resident in Great Britain – this is a similar test to habitual residence. Claimants of income-related benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-related), already have to meet a habitual residence test. Requiring Personal Independence Payment claimants to meet a habitual residence will align the residence tests with other benefits so that claimants only have to meet one test.
3.22 We will carry forward current exceptions to the current test which includes treating serving members of Her Majesty’s Forces as present in Great Britain. However, the current rules for DLA still require serving members to be ordinarily resident in Great Britain. We propose to make a change so that this group (and members of their families) are treated as habitually resident in Great Britain whilst stationed and serving abroad.
3.23 DLA claimants have to satisfy a past presence test – they must have spent 26 weeks out of the previous 52 weeks in Great Britain at the point of claim and throughout an award. If they meet all the other conditions of entitlement they do not need to have any other connection with Great Britain. We consider that this test is now outdated and does not represent a long standing or sufficient connection with Great Britain.
3.24 We therefore propose that the period should be extended so that claimants can demonstrate a more enduring association with Great Britain to justify receipt of a benefit funded by the British taxpayer. For some benefits this is five years and other countries have longer periods. We acknowledge that EU law affects how we apply our rules to certain claimants However the EU impact is outside the scope of this consultation12 .
Do you agree that it is sensible to move towards a habitual residence test to simplify the claiming process by aligning with other benefits?
Do you think a requirement that a claimant must have been present in Great Britain for two years out of the previous three years is reasonable in order to demonstrate a long standing affiliation to Great Britain? Would a longer period be more appropriate?
And if so what do you think that longer period should be and why?
Do you think that serving members of Her Majesty’s Forces and their families should be treated as habitually resident in Great Britain when serving and stationed abroad?