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Help at hand for settlement scheme for EU nationals

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Stroud and Cotswolds Citizens Advice is helping EU nationals understand the EU Settlement Scheme.

Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK government launched the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The deadline for applications is June 30.

The EUSS allows those EU nationals who were resident in the UK by December 30, 2020 apply for settled or pre-settled status. Any EU nationals who fail to apply by the deadline risk losing their right to live, work and study in the UK. They could also lose access to public funds, pensions and the opportunity to apply for British citizenship.

Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Hall said “EU nationals play an important part in the economy and public services of the Stroud and Cotswolds particularly in healthcare, agriculture and industry. It’s vital that citizens of EU countries understand their rights and obligations under the scheme. Citizens Advice can help EU nationals, particularly those who may be digitally excluded or lack the necessary language skills to secure their status. If you need help, please contact us before 30 June.”

Care workers and children in care may be at particular risk of missing out on EU settled status. A report published last year by The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that as many as one in three had never heard of the Settlement Scheme. The JCWI surveyed 290 social care workers between January and March 2020, mostly from eastern Europeans. The results showed that “1 in 7 care workers surveyed online either did not know or were not sure what the EUSS was and 1 in 3 care workers surveyed in person had never heard of the EUSS before we met them”, according to JCWI.

There have been 5.3 million Settlement Scheme applications so far with 4.98 million concluded, but the size of the target population is unknown and JCWI point out that “if even a tiny fraction… are unable to apply in time, tens of thousands of people will lose their status overnight”.

A Social Market Foundation survey carried out in September found that awareness of the Settlement Scheme was also low among European farm workers. Citizens Advice Stroud and Cotswolds is contacting farmers via the NFU and the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester.

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