Polish mum blames attitudes to Brexit for failing residency test at Jobcentre

A young Polish mother says she believes attitudes to Brexit are responsible for her failing a residency test, leaving her without benefits despite living in Scotland for eight years.

Agnieszka Maziarek, 26, from Edinburgh, who passed her first residency test two years after arriving in Scotland in 2011, says she is now dependent on loans from friends and food vouchers.

“I’m walking from neighbour to neighbour to get food,” Ms Maziarek said.

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Ms Maziarek, who had been working in a care home until the birth of her daughter last year, said that after submitting three claims for Universal Credit before Christmas, she was told she had been successful, but was then called in for an interview and a residency test at the Jobcentre.

Agnieszka Maziarek. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Agnieszka Maziarek. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Agnieszka Maziarek. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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She said: “I truly believe this is because of Brexit. I’ve heard of this happening to other people from the EU.

“Jobcentre officials are targeting people from the EU. They are definitely making it harder for us. I don’t know if they’ve been told to do this or not, but it seems like it.

“My first residency test lasted an hour with lots of questions. This time it was 15 minutes with less questions.”

A DWP spokesman said: “The habitual residence test has been in place since 1994 to ensure only people with a legal right to reside in the UK, and who have ­established an attachment to the UK, can claim welfare ­support.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “There have been no changes to the right to reside criteria since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016.

“There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021.

“If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can apply to the EU settlement scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June, 2021.”