With the government’s deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme approaching, Mayor Marvin Rees and city leaders from Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield and Nottingham have come together to write to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging her to extend the 30 June deadline for EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: “On 1 July, there is a significant risk many EU nationals will unknowingly become undocumented migrants. The repercussions and impact of this would be significant. We simply do not have the information to indicate how many more people are yet to apply, and in Bristol, as with much of the country, we’ve seen higher than expected application numbers.”
Census data from 2011 indicated that 21,000 EU citizens live in Bristol. To date, more than double this number - 46,300 - have applied. With the most recent census taking place in March this year, local authorities and other agencies have asked the government to extend the deadline until after the 2021 census data becomes available so councils can ensure all relevant citizens have been contacted.
Bristol City Council has run a number of communication campaigns such as this We Are Bristol mini film to make citizens aware of the scheme, to get the message out that Bristol wants its EU citizens to stay, and that help is available for those who need it.
Despite efforts from the council, advice centres and other organisations, there’s concern that older EU nationals living in Bristol may not be aware that they need to apply. So far, only 2 per cent of Bristol’s applicants to the scheme have been from the 65 and above age group. There’s also concern that parents who have applied for themselves may not realise they need to apply on behalf of their children as well.
The council, along with the city’s advice centres, has run a number of outreach activities including a series of webinars for staff and people in the city who work with potentially vulnerable people who need to apply to the scheme, so that they’re equipped to support and signpost potential applicants.
However, with much of the past 18 months spent in lockdown, face-to-face services for people needing help with their application has not been available meaning citizens may not have been able to access the support they need to apply. Now lockdown is easing, there are less than 50 days until the deadline, potentially resulting in missed or late applications.
The letter to the Home Office also requests that the government provide clear guidance on how late applications will be dealt with.
The council has a dedicated webpage for citizens which includes where to find help, links to guidance in other languages, as well as info and links on how and where to apply. The deadline to apply to the scheme is 30 June 2021. More information on our webpage here: www.bristol.gov.uk/EUSettlement