Today, the Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes wrote in the Times' Red Box about the steps the Home Office is taking to ensure that vulnerable people receive the support they need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Her words can be found below.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes:
I’m proud that more than three million citizens from across the EU have made their home here across the UK. They are our friends, neighbours and colleagues.
And as immigration minister it is a priority of mine to ensure that EU citizens in every part of our society have their rights protected through the EU Settlement Scheme.
What Windrush taught us was just how important it is that people can evidence the rights that they’re entitled to. We’ve made it quick and easy for EU citizens to do so with only three key steps – prove their identity, show that they live in the UK, and declare any criminal convictions. I am delighted that two months after the scheme was fully rolled out, well over 600,000 have already applied.
But I know that some people are worried about what the scheme means for the marginalised in our society.
It’s why I am mobilising 57 charities and voluntary organisations right across the UK with £9 million of funding.
They will use their expertise to provide caseworker services, online help and group support sessions up and down the country for more than 200,000 vulnerable people – whether they are homeless, victims of domestic abuse or trafficking, live with a disability or who are elderly or isolated.
They will have a direct line into my department to raise individual cases, joining forces with a team of more than a thousand people at the Home Office who are working hard to give EU citizens the status they are entitled to.
Some of these charities are familiar names like the homeless charity Crisis, whereas others are smaller organisations who have key links in to our communities. I’m excited to be working with all of them to ensure that we reach everyone.
But this is only one part of the support we are providing. We’ve carefully built the scheme from the ground up to make it inclusive, and we will continue to put compassion at its heart. This includes the creation of a dedicated settlement resolution centre to help support people through the process.
For example, we know that not everyone has the skills, confidence or ability to use the internet to apply, so we have made sure that post, telephone, face-to-face and even home visit options are available in many places across the UK. This includes over 200 assisted digital locations across the UK where applicants can be supported through their application.
Others will struggle to provide proof of residence, such as the homeless or victims of human trafficking. We’ve built flexibility into the rules for them, accepting confirmation from local authorities, charities and even doctors’ surgeries as proof of residence.
We also know that domestic abuse can trap victims and their families. That is why they can opt to have correspondence forwarded to another address, such as their support caseworker, so it can’t be intercepted by an abusive partner.
All of these examples show how we’ve carefully considered making the EU Settlement Scheme flexible and sensitive to different situations, often with the expert advice of the third sector.
We’re looking for reasons to grant not refuse, and with these key partnerships I’m confident that we can reach everyone.