‘Don’t lose your right to stay’ is the message Merton Council wants to get out to its European Union residents, amidst concern that more than half are yet to apply to stay after Brexit and around a third of those that have applied nationally are being refused a full right to remain.
The council is urging all residents from European Union countries who want to stay in the country if it leaves the EU, to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible. The government have said that all EU nationals must apply for Settled Status to keep their right to remain in the country and secure their rights to vote, get free medical care and welfare benefits.
The latest official figures, from the Government’s quarterly statistics up until June this year, reveal that of the 25,000 EU citizens living in Merton less than half have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). As many of them carry out important jobs that benefit the borough’s economy, or have close personal relationships with British citizens living in the borough, the council is concerned about the impact on the local community if they are not given full status. The council is also concerned about the number of applicants nationally who are being refused full status and being given only the reduced pre-settled status instead.
In an effort to increase the number making successful applications, the council has commissioned specialist services to give residents free support and advice on the scheme. Residents can access free help to make EUSS applications from either Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth or South West London Law Centres.
The council is also flagging up that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal the government have said the deadline for applying to EU Settlement Scheme will be brought forward to 31 December 2020.
Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “We consider that everyone who lives in Merton is helping to make it a great place for families. We’re concerned that our European friends, neighbours and family members in Merton are not getting the Settled Status their work in our community deserves.
“We do not want our community broken up, and are urging all residents who want to remain living here to apply as soon as possible. If they miss the deadline and Brexit takes place they may no longer be able to legally live here and contribute to our great community.
“We understand there are already some delays at the Home Office for more complex cases and are very concerned about applications being turned down or given the incorrect status.
“We don’t want our neighbours and loved ones to lose the right to remain here, their right to vote or their rights to free medical care and welfare benefits and are offering free specialist advice services to support those who need help with their application.
“They have helped make our borough a great place for everyone to live in, and it is only right that we are here to help them when they need it too.”
For more information:
Visit : www.merton.gov.uk/brexit
For access help and advice contact Citizens Advice Merton by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 8687 9297
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The EU Settlement Scheme quarterly statistics show up until June the number of EU nationals from Merton who made applications was 8,000.
There is no fee for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme
Residents who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can apply to the EUSS to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
The government have said the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.