‘I Would Never Have Come If We’d Know It Might Be Like This’
On the (Un)Intended Consequences of Welfare Governance of EU Roma Migrants in Britain
This paper presents the findings from a small-scale pilot study which explores the experiences of accessing welfare benefits by the migrant Roma European Union (EU) citizens in the UK. It compares administrative barriers and individuals’ knowledge of welfare entitlement both prior and after the implementation of changes to the welfare regime in 2014, when a tranche of ‘policy hardening’ legal enactments came into force. For the migrants who participated in this study, precarious, low paid post-migration work has brought several hazards, including a non-eligibility for certain social protections and an inability to demonstrate documentation which enable access to ‘passported’ welfare benefits. The combination of problems in accessing welfare benefits and the resulting state interventions, including expulsion from the UK in some cases, suggest that EU Roma citizens experience disproportionate negative impacts of welfare hardening, adding to the much vaunted ‘hostile environment’ to EU migrants in the wake of the Brexit vote. As such, we find the practice of ‘bordering’ migrant EU Roma citizens to the UK is taking place through covert state enforcement action against families and households, discouraging effective and genuine use of their free movement rights guaranteed under European Union law.
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