Lords Committee warns of impending immigration scandal if UK government fails to act

Lords Committee warns of impending immigration scandal if UK government fails to act

The Home Office risks another immigration policy scandal if it does not fix crucial problems with the EU Settlement Scheme, the House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has warned in an urgent letter.

The committee has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid raising concerns about the EU Settlement Scheme, which despite several major issues is now in the process of being rolled out.

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, chair of the sub-committee, said: “The committee is troubled that the Home Office appears not to have learnt the lessons from the Windrush scandal, and is pushing ahead with the EU Settlement Scheme in its current form. If I was in this situation, I would want to have physical proof – just like for a driving licence – for a sense of personal security in case of events such as computer failure.” 

The committee’s principal concerns are, firstly, that publicity for the scheme has so far been inadequate and ill-judged; vulnerable and harder-to-reach people are at risk of not knowing that they need to apply for settled status, including some long-standing residents.

Secondly, the application process is not accessible to all, and there are potential barriers that could deter people from applying. For example, the emphasis on online application: whilst there is particular concern about those who lack confidence with IT systems, the process can be daunting for other applicants too.

Thirdly, having no physical proof of status will not only disadvantage those without access to online technology, but would leave all EU nationals in limbo in the event of a breakdown of the electronic system.

Finally, that there is no systematic scheme to move people from pre-settled status to settled status: Without prompts or a proper system, EU nationals with pre-settled status are at risk of not knowing they need to re-apply, undermining the government’s aim in creating pre-settled status in the first place.

The sub-committee has asked for a response to these concerns within 10 days.

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