EXCL Post-Brexit Settled Status scheme could be 'Windrush times ten', ministers warned
The new immigration scheme aimed at guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals after Brexit is set to become a Windrush scandal “times ten,” ministers have been warned.
New analysis suggests more than 500,000 EU citizens in the UK will miss the deadline for the so-called ‘Settled Status’ scheme and end up at risk of detention and deportation.
Lib Dem home affairs Spokesman Ed Davey told PoliticsHome nobody “seriously believes” the programme will not turn into a damaging mess for the Government.
But the Home Office argued the settlement scheme is "simple and straightforward" and said millions of pounds were being pumped into helping hard-to-reach migrants sign up.
The Settled Status scheme, which has been trialled for months and was rolled out across the country at the end of March, allows EU nationals and their families to secure their rights in the UK after Brexit.
It is open to those who have lived in the country for five years or more, with the deadline for applications closing on 31 December 2020 if the UK quits the EU without a Brexit deal and by 30 June 2021 if an agreement is in place.
But the Lib Dems pointed to other schemes in the UK and abroad which show a section of the eligible population regularly misses out on national sign-up schemes.
According to HMRC data, 17% of families eligible for child tax credit did not take it up in 2016-17, while 35% of those eligible for working tax credit also missed out on the benefits scheme.
Meanwhile, a report by the New Philanthropy Capital - a charity that advises other charities - found big numbers of people failed to register for other national schemes around the world.
The registration shortfalls varied from 57% for a child migrant scheme in the US to 23% for an employment regulation scheme in Spain and 15% to 58% for a migrant regulation scheme in Greece.
The best result was found in India, after a £1bn publicity programme lasting 7 years saw a 99% uptake rate by 2017 for an ID card scheme.
Mr Davey said: “The Government hasn’t even sorted out the Windrush scandal properly yet, but with Brexit it’s creating an even bigger one.
“No one seriously believes that the Home Office will successfully grant Settled Status to all 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK.
“Our analysis suggests that more than 500,000 will miss out, which would mean the Windrush Scandal times ten.
“The only way to prevent this is by stopping Brexit altogether. That’s why every vote for the Liberal Democrats on 23rd May is a vote to stop Brexit.”
'SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD'
But a Home Office spokesman said: “The EU Settlement Scheme makes it simple and straightforward for EU citizens to get the status they need and more than 600,000 people have now applied.
“We are providing grant funding of up to £9m for voluntary and community organisations across the UK to support EU citizens who might need additional help when applying to the scheme.
“Deal or no deal, EU citizens will have until at least 31 December 2020 to apply.”
The Home Office has also launched a £3.75m marketing blitz to encourage EU citizens to make sure they sign up before the deadline.
PoliticsHome has previously reported on the tech woes faced by EU nationals trying to apply for the settled status scheme.
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