Race to identify EU nationals who have yet to apply for post-Brexit papers as cut-off date is next week
The Government said today it is working hard to identify tens of thousands of Europeans living in the UK who have yet to apply for a new post-Brexit residency scheme ahead next week’s cut-off date.
Downing Street said only a “small minority” of those eligible for the settled status scheme – which closes at the end of the month – had yet to come forward.
It comes amid concerns that tens of thousands of EU citizens – as well as nationals of Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – could have their benefits cut off if they miss the June 30 deadline.
The Times reported that official estimates circulating in Whitehall at the start of the month calculated that of the 820,000 European benefits claimants in the UK, around 130,000 had yet to apply. Of those, around 90,000 were said to be in receipt of universal credit.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government was encouraging those who had not put in an application to do so as soon as possible.
“We are making sure that anyone receiving benefits is given every opportunity to apply to the EU settlement scheme,” the spokesman said. “We are working hard to identify existing claimants who are yet to apply and encouraging them to do so.”
“Anyone who has applied for the scheme by the June 30 deadline will have their rights protected until their application is decided,” he added.
“In line with the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement, those who have reasonable grounds for missing the deadline will be able to make a late application. We will continue to work hard to identify the remaining small minority who have not yet come forward.”
Scottish government hits out
Home Office bosses have been urged to deal with a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applications from European citizens wishing to stay in the UK.
Jenny Gilruth, the Europe minister for the Scottish Government, described the situation as “deeply concerning”.
Some 276,600 EU nationals living in Scotland had applied to the UK Government for settled status by the end of May.
But figures showed that, by then, a backlog of about 334,500 applications had built up – a rise of 29,500 from the previous month.
The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, made clear her opposition to the scheme as she reminded EU nationals of the deadline for applications.
She told them: “I wish you didn’t have to, but please apply to the EU settlement scheme by 30 June – this is your home and we really want you to stay.”
Meanwhile, Gilruth spoke out about the backlog as she urged the UK Government to reform its settled status scheme.
She said: “With only days to go to the deadline, it is deeply concerning that hundreds of thousands of applications – many of which will very likely be from our fellow citizens who wish to stay in Scotland – have yet to be processed by the Home Office.”