Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, EU citizens based in the UK must apply for settled or pre-settled status to protect their right to reside in the UK and therefore to be able to access healthcare, education and welfare services.
It now appears that vast numbers of EEA workers employed in sectors delivering care to others are now themselves at risk of not meeting the government deadline which expires on 30 June 2021.
This would put them outside the law with limited or no access to public services as a result, said Caitlin Boswell, author of the JCWI report, which is based on extensive survey work in UK care homes.
Boswell said, “We are still in the middle of a pandemic, while the EUSS [EU Settlement Scheme] deadline for EU citizens is less than six months away.”
“This includes thousands of care workers who have worked tirelessly, putting their lives and their families’ lives on the line to get us through this crisis.
“It couldn’t be more urgent that the Government lift the EUSS deadline.”
“It is now clear that it is not only the most vulnerable EU citizens who are at risk. All those with poor access to information at work also face missing the deadline” Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans
EU citizens make up a high proportion of health and social care workers in the UK, a sector that is already under pressure due to the pandemic. If frontline workers were to lose their legal status in the UK the consequences would be severe for those in their care.
Nadia Whittome, at 24 years of age the youngest MP in the House of Commons, said of the report, “Care workers have risked their lives in the pandemic. Yet as a profession they are seriously undervalued. Without EU migrants our care system would collapse.”
“It is unacceptable that many of them risk losing their right to live in the UK. The government must lift the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme immediately.”
She went on, “As well as recommending an extension of the 30 June deadline for EUSS application, both the JCWI and New Europeans reports also call on the Government to issue a physical proof of status to EU citizens.”
Speaking for the Scottish National Party, Stuart McDonald MP, spokesperson on Immigration, Asylum and Border control, said, “This hugely concerning report sets out the stark consequences that will follow if the Home Office continues to ignore all the many warnings about the design of the Settled Status Scheme.”
“Tens - if not hundreds - of thousands are at risk of losing rights overnight, including pivotal care workers. All of the recommendations in this report are designed to try and stop this happening – there is no excuse for not implementing them.”
“Care workers have risked their lives in the pandemic. Yet as a profession they are seriously undervalued. Without EU migrants our care system would collapse” Nadia Whittome MP
The research builds on findings by campaign group New Europeans at the end of 2020, highlighting the issues many EU citizens were having with the new digital status and online application process.
Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans said, “It is now clear that it is not only the most vulnerable EU citizens who are at risk. All those with poor access to information at work also face missing the deadline.”
“It’s a small percentage of the total number of EU Citizens in the UK, but a very large number in absolute terms. Each one is an individual life, which could be the life of a mother, a father, a friend or a neighbour or, as the JCWI report shows, an essential worker or your carer.”