Brexit: UK rolls out 'settled status' pilot study

Written by Martin Banks on 31 August 2018 in News

A campaign group has welcomed news that the first EU27 citizens are to be allowed to apply for ‘settled status’ in the UK.

Photo credit: Press Association

In a pilot study being rolled out at universities and hospitals in the north west of England, the UK government is making the scheme available on a trial basis while it finalises the details of the new legislation.

It means that for example, those who apply in Liverpool today and who are eligible will actually receive settled status regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

The news was greeted by New Europeans, a group based in the UK that has led a campaign for such unilateral guarantees for EU27 citizens since 2016. It said the announcement comes after many EU citizens in the UK had spent “two years and two months of living in limbo.”

Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans UK, told the Parliament Magazine, “In Liverpool and the North West, EU27 citizens are signing up today for unilateral guarantees, Brexit deal or no Brexit deal.

“This is an important development which could start to reduce some of the uncertainty around EU27 citizens’ rights post Brexit.

“It also represents a significant policy U-turn by the government which we welcome.”

The former Labour MP went on, “We now call on the government to accelerate the national roll out and confirm that all the rights of EU27 citizens will be guaranteed, including their electoral rights and their rights to family reunion.

“It is time to bring to an end this shameful episode of treating the lives of our fellow human beings as collateral in the Brexit negotiations and give people the certainty they need to be able to plan their future.

“We renew our call to the EU to guarantee the rights of Britons in the EU as soon as possible on a parallel unilateral basis.”

Further comment came from Estaphanie Dunn, Regional Director for the NHS in the north west, who told this website, “EU nurses contribute significantly to the regions health and social care and bring with them a huge range of skills, expertise and knowledge. 

“The risk of losing this workforce would be devastating.  We therefore welcome the opportunity to get this process moving in our region at the earliest opportunity as providing these nurses the ability to plan their futures cannot be underestimated as a mechanism to stem the flow of EU nurses from the UK.

“For the participating Trusts, we see it enabling them to put more robust workforce planning in place and deploy the right numbers of staff with the right skills and abilities to deliver safe care.”

Feidhelm Doolin, President of the Hope University Students Union, said, “I’m pleased the government is rolling out the settled status scheme unilaterally but it is not fair to expect students or anyone else to pay £65 to buy back some of the status they had before the referendum.

“Make the scheme free or at the very least give a concession for students, and get on with it. It’s not fair to deny EU students across the UK the same unilateral offer as the one being made here in Liverpool and the north west today.”

Elsewhere, Dieuwertje Dyi Huijg, PhD student at the University of Manchester, said, “Disabled EU citizens currently have unequal access to permanent residence and benefits. This move by the government is welcomed but, for disabled and other disadvantaged EU citizens, there is still a long way to go to put an end to the uncertainty.

“I am waiting to see the details of how the rights of disabled EU27 citizens are to be protected under the new regime. It’s not just about securing right to stay in the UK it is also about people's future access to healthcare, social care and medication.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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