Answers to your questions...

Residency Rights - BREXIT 

Would you like to stay in the UK?  As you know the UK is leaving the EU.  But this should not mean you will have to go home to your country.  We are waiting to hear what rights you will have as we hear.  We will keep you posted!  

If you can show that you have been living here in the UK for five years or more, then you will be given the right to stay living here.  So you need to keep evidence of where you have lived (tenancy agreements and receipts of rent paid), where you have worked (payslips), where your family was registered with the GP, where your children went to school, and any other information you have.  Keep your papers in order! This will really help us to help you. 

If you haven't been in the UK five years yet, don't worry.  It looks like you will be able to complete five full years here and then apply for permanent right to reside.  But do keep all your papers in order!  

If you have friends and relatives who want to come to the UK, at the moment they are still allowed to come here.  But this is going to get more difficult once the UK has left the EU. 

We are not allowed to give personal advice to any person on their rights to reside in the UK or apply on their behalf.  This has to come from a trained and authorised person.  But we want to help you get the best advice.  

GETTING YOUR CHILDREN INTO SCHOOL

The system here in the UK is not the same as in your home country! 

We can help you fill out application forms for each of your children.  The council at the town hall will give you the forms.  Once completed take them back to the council with the birth certificates of all your school aged children. They will be copied and the originals given back to you. On the form you can say which school you would like your child to go to. There are second and third choices you can give too.  Please be aware that many schools in Luton have long waiting lists as many classes are already full.  So you may not get a place at the school you have chosen.  You may have to take your child to a school further away from where you live. But their name will stay on the waiting list for the school you asked for. It can take a long time to get a place there.  If you already have a child in a school you like, this can help your other children to be placed there. 

In the UK we believe every child of school age should get a good education. This is why you have to send your child to school every day!  When they miss school, they fall behind in their learning. If they are always there and work hard they will leave school at 16 or 18 and will be able to get a good job!  We want all your children to have the best chance possible.  But if your child missed too much school you will have to pay a big fine and go to court. If they are ill, you must call the school and give them the name and date of birth of your child.  If they are ill for more than a few days, go to the GP to get a sick note for your child and take this to the school.  

When your child reaches 16 it's a really good idea to find them a place at college.  At college they can continue to improve their English and get a special training which could lead to them getting a job when they leave college at 18.  Keep your child in full time education until they are 18 and you can continue to receive child benefit payments for them!  

We are here to help you with all of this.  Whatever problems you have, let us know and we will try to help.  

ACCOMODATION (flat, house)

Be really careful to do these things:  

1] Get a tenancy agreement from the agency or landlord.  You will need this!

2] Get receipts for every payment you make to the agency or the landlord.  Never give money without a receipt!  

3] Take photos of the place your are going to rent before you move in.  When you move out you can show the agency/landlord that you have left the property as you found it and then receive back the deposit you paid when you moved in.    

4] If you have problems in your house/flat - damp walls, leaking roof, boiler not working, no hot water or heating, rubbish in the garden, rats or mice, doors not closing - then make a list of the problems and take pictures.  We will then need to complain to the agency or landlord immediately.  If nothing is done to sort the problems, then we will go with you the council to complain. The agency or landlord then has to sort the problems.  

5] If your agency wants to put up your rent, they have to tell you in writing before.  

6] If your agency wants to evict you, they have to give you a special letter called a "Notice of Eviction" before they can tell you to leave.  It then takes at least two months before you would have to leave by court order.  If you are told to leave in a threatening way before this happens, then call the police, call us, and we will go with you to the council to complain.  Remember to keep all your rent receipts.  

7] It's important to keep a record of all the places you lived in the UK and the dates you lived there.  This information will be useful when you claim for housing benefit and if you want to apply for permanent right to reside in the UK.  

CLAIMING BENEFITS

We can apply for housing benefit for you on line. It takes about 2 hours to do!  You have to have a tenancy agreement to be able to apply. Bring with you all the information you have about yourself - where you lived, your earnings, etc.  Once the application has been made, we will give you the special reference number. Take this with all your documents to the council a fews days later.  They will make copies of your documents and write to you to let you know the result of your application. Whenever something changes in your circumstances - your income, birth of a new child, change of address etc - you have to let everyone know!  

We can apply for child benefit for you providing you have the children's birth certificates.  

We can apply for tax credits for you if you are working.  There are working tax credits and child tax credits. Once you are receiving tax credits you will usually be sent a medical exemption card.  Take this to the chemist and the dentist so you don't have to pay for your medications and treatment. Whenever something changes in your circumstances - your income, birth of a new child, change of address etc - you have to let everyone know! 

There are other benefits available.  For example, if you are pregnant (maternity allowance) or long term sick and no longer able to work (PIP etc).  

To get a pension you need to prove that you have been living and working in the UK for a number of years.  

When we are not sure of your rights we will make an appointment to go rwith you to Citizen's Advice Luton to talk to an expert. They will tell us how best we can help you.  If you are struggling to pay for the food for your family, Luton Food Bank may be able to help a few times a year until your problems are resolved.  The food is only for people who have a real crisis.

GETTING A NATIONAL INSURANCE NUMBER - NINo

Everyone in the UK will need a NINo.  It's hard to get work in the UK without one.  But first you need proof of identity (national identity card or passport), and evidence of the address where you are living.  We will then call to make you an appointment.  This will usually be in Hatfield or Bedford - about an hour's drive away.  Take someone with you who speaks English if you still learning.   

If you lose your number, you will not be given a different number.  Job Centre Plus will still have it!  But to get back the number you will have to be able to tell them what your address was when you first applied.  So, keep a note of all your addresses where you lived!

OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT

Every bank needs to you to provide two things before they will open a bank account for you:  

1) Proof of identity (passport or national identity card that has not expired)   

2] Proof of address - this can be tricky!  A bill, that has your current address on it and is not older than 3 months, will do.  To get this you may have to open an account for gas or water in your name.  Sometimes the letter you got stating your National Insurance Number will do, providing it's not older than 3 months.  The bank will usually want to interview you to check all is well. They may want to know something about your income.