What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
There are currently over one million EU nationals living in London, who will all need to secure their rights to continue to live, work and study in the UK through the government’s EU Settlement Scheme as the UK leaves the EU.
The government has announced that the EU settlement scheme will include a new digital application system with new processes, rules and support for applicants. Providing that a final withdrawal agreement is ratified by the EU and the UK government, EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five or more years will be required to apply for and obtain confirmation of Settled Status, for a fee of £65 for adults and £32.50 for children under 16.
EU citizens resident in the UK for fewer than five years, as well as any EU nationals arriving between 30 March 2019 and December 2020 (providing a Withdrawal Agreement is agreed between the UK and the EU), will need to obtain temporary Pre-settled Status until they reach the necessary five years for Settled Status.
Government information for EU citizens and their families can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families
What is the role of local authorities in supporting EU citizens to claim Settled Status?
Many boroughs are already providing information and guidance to EU citizens on how best to secure Settled Status or Pre-settled Status. Particular support may be required for vulnerable groups at risk of not securing their status, such as people with housing or health issues that may prevent them from being able to easily engage with the application process.
As corporate parent, local authorities have a duty to act in a looked after child or care leaver’s best interests and secure the best possible outcomes for them. They will therefore be required to support looked after children and care leavers in their applications for Settled Status or Pre-settled Status. The government has said that the application fee will be waivered for looked after children.
In addition, social services may be providing accommodation and financial support to EU families or adults with care and support needs who are unable to claim welfare benefits. When such support is provided, it will be in the interests for all concerned for the local authority to proactively assist people to take appropriate steps to secure their status in order to comply with child safeguarding and adult well-being duties, and to avoid long-term support costs which may otherwise be incurred.
Local authorities will need to be adequately resourced to enable London boroughs to ensure London’s one million European residents get the advice and support needed to secure their rights to Settled Status.
More information on the role of local authorities can be found here: http://www.nrpfnetwork.org.uk/Documents/EU-Settlement-Scheme.pdf