the3million’s view on the government’s ‘sort of clarifications’ about the Settled Status scheme for EU citizens and how the Government of Gibraltar announcing the issuing of physical cards for EU citizens proves it is not only possible but also sensible.
First published in November 2020.
EU Settlement Scheme
The COVID-19 crisis is currently attracting all the attention, yet, we are only 40 days away from the end of the transition period and our world as we know it will change dramatically as free movement ends in the UK.
One thing we know is that all EU citizens living in the UK on 31 December 2020 must apply for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status, with a hard deadline of 30 June 2021. Best not to wait though and the sooner the better if you haven’t applied yet.
You may know that, but many people still don’t, and we at the3million praise the attitude of the Brighton and Hove Council who sent a postcard (see below) to all households within the boundary of the Council with the simple message ‘EU citizens must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021’.
Our partner charity Settled is warning scores of people still require face-to-face help in order to be able to apply, which it is unable to give due to the ongoing pandemic. Kate Smart said in this article in the i-paper that “there is a problem without an easy solution at the moment, which is there are people who it is very hard to help without face to face help, and that’s probably not going to be resolved easily before the deadlines.”
the3million has formally asked the Government to do what the Brighton and Hove Council did, but nationwide, so every household in the UK gets the message, and no one is left behind when the deadline comes next year.
You've got mail!
Talking of the Government, we have been waiting for many clarifications about the Settled Status scheme, chasing up responses to our requests and letters dating back as far as June this year. Just like buses, you wait for one and three come along at once!
This week, the Government finally published the Policy Equality Statement (PES) for the Settlement scheme, following multiple requests in Parliament by MPs and the3million.
The PES is an important document because it assesses whether the law is proportionate and does not risk discrimination of protected groups, such as EU citizens with disability.
Our team is currently reviewing the 105-page document and we will keep you updated.
This week also saw the Government reply to our letters asking for clarification on details about the Settlement Scheme. On 16 June, we wrote to the Home Secretary about urgent issues on the EU Settlement Scheme, including the impact of COVID-19 on EU citizens’ continuity of residence, the issue of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) in naturalisation applications and the ability of Lounes dual nationals to access their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.
The reply from Minister Kevin Foster provides some details, and some reassurance concerning CSI, but it does not address the substance of our concerns.
For instance, it is particularly concerning that after five months, there is still no clear and detailed guidance on how absences due to COVID-19 restrictions will be treated in EU citizens’ Settled Status and naturalisation applications. (Here is the full reply.)
Following the defeat of the amendment to establish a physical backup to the digital status, we wrote again on 9 October and 13 November to Minister Kevin Foster about the lack of physical proof and we are thankful for his quick reply, but there are still unanswered questions on how the system would reflect the diverse needs of all its users.
You can read the full letters by the Government by visiting our publications library.
Physical document on the rocks
This week, we also saw the Government of Gibraltar announcing a physical card would be issued to all EU citizens living in this British territory, which supports the argument that it’s a sensible and practicable step to let us live normally post-Brexit.
We continue our #DeniedMyBackUp campaign for physical proof of (pre-)settled status and we will soon make an online form available for people to report problems proving their status, so we can gather evidence and continue to advocate against this discriminatory policy.🔷
Nicolas Hatton, Founder of the3million to protect #citizensrights.
The3million, the largest group of EU citizens in the UK, with volunteers working on advocacy, policy, legal, media, social media, grassroots and events.
Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? If you can help their campaign to continue, you can:
Check their Voting Record:
🗳️ Kevin Foster