Many European citizens who just moved to the UK for work have now been blocked by the Department for Work & Pensions’ choice to transfer all workers employed in the NIN services to the Universal Credit’s offices.
“They’ll tell you that you can work even without the NIN, but that’s not true. Look, they just rejected my job application because I don’t have it.” These are the words of Marco Calandra, a 26-year-old Italian man, who has been in London for over two weeks looking for a job as a teacher, stumbled upon the network of English bureaucracy between Covid-19 and Brexit.
What upsets Marco is the interruption of the NIN issuing service, an acronym for National Insurance Number, the social security identifier that is attributed to workers and individuals seeking social benefits in England. A disservice that is making it difficult for him to find a job.
The problem has been present since March. Maurizio Rodorigo, a coordinator of the Inca CGIL (Italian National Confederal Assistance Institute) in London, said: “Due to Covid-19, the Department for Work & Pensions, the equivalent of our Ministry of Labour, has transferred all the workers assigned to the NIN service on Universal Credit, the all-inclusive subsidy that integrated the furlough scheme, the British redundancy fund.”
After calling 0800 141 2075 to get an appointment at a Job Center and start the practice, the recorded voice confirms the interruption and informs that the service is being restored.
“But when?,” Rodorigo asks, adding: “In fact, it is the new arrivals from Europe who are in trouble. The NIN service is guaranteed to workers arriving in the UK with a working visa and to British citizens over the age of 16, whose number is automatically recognized on their sixteenth birthday.”
“Is this an attempt to discourage Europeans from entering the UK in the last useful migration window before Brexit?,” asks Marco Calandra, who turned to Rodorigo and the Inca CGIL for support. The timing seems to justify the question.
The consequences, on the other hand, end up impacting the lives of Europeans and Italians, such as that of Maria Gioacchino, a specialist in breast surgery at the Western Sussex Hospital, who was also unable to obtain the so much wanted NIN.
In an interview for the VoL, she said: “I have been here since August 2nd, but I must admit that I don’t feel fully integrated, I live with a little despondency.”
Despite not having encountered any problems in accessing the world of work, Dr Gioacchino, as a non-beneficiary of NIN, cannot request a deduction on the child’s asylum fee, as provided for by the Tax-Free Childcare.
“Here, compared to Italy, the structures cost more, and with the fact that both my husband and I work, kindergarten provides important support. Not being able to ask for the benefit, I don’t find it right, it doesn’t make me feel part of the community.”
A common feeling between the newest Europeans in the UK who are experiencing the same situation. Inefficiency from Covid-19 or new normal life due to Brexit?
Words: Deborah Melchiorre I Subbing: Kristina Hristova