A RETIRED Sheffield postal worker born and bred in Britain has been ordered to prove he has a ‘right to reside’ in the UK after flying home from a holiday.
British citizen Kevin Owen, aged 59, has spent his entire working life in the UK, owns his own home and has always paid his taxes.
But after returning to Sheffield from a two-month winter break in Bulgaria he was told he must now prove his right to be here.
The dad-of-three needs to pass a ‘habitual residence test’, and fill in a form detailing his ‘right to reside’ because he was out of the country for more than two weeks.
Civil servants told Mr Owen he has to prove residence to be eligible for job seekers’ allowance or other benefits.
The former mail sorting worker, who was employed by Royal Mail for a decade before being forced to retire through ill health 18 months ago, told The Star: “I was born here, I have worked all my life here, and I am still paying taxes and council tax.
“I own my house, I pay my mortgage and I even pay child support.
“And now they are questioning whether I have the right to live here - just because I went on holiday. Hundreds of people go on holiday each year.”
Mr Owen, of Musgrave Crescent, Shirecliffe, suffers arthritis in his hips and spine, and is unable to walk without a stick, but says tough new rules make him ineligible for incapacity benefit. He has been left with no choice but to try to seek work - but ran into problems when job centre staff heard he had been abroad.
“They said anyone who has been out of the country for two weeks needs to take this test,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. I’ve lived here all my life.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “It is sometimes necessary to ask a customer to support their claim for benefit by asking them for additional information, or verification of their circumstances.
“Mr Owen is aware of the circumstances and has made a further claim for benefit within the last few days.”