Report finds concerns over difficulty of applying and negative impact it has on health and wellbeing
Migrant Voice survey finds a significant number of people experience problems applying to the EU Settlement Scheme
27 November 2019
Migrant Voice released an interesting new report last week looking at the experiences of people applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The 43-page report is available here.
For the report, Migrant Voice conducted an online survey which received 229 valid responses. Migrant Voice acknowledges that its survey represents only a limited snapshot of experiences and says it is clear that a much larger survey of the Settlement Scheme is also needed.
While Migrant Voice welcomed the fact that the majority of survey respondents had a fairly positive experience of the EU Settlement Scheme application process, it was concerned to find that a significant minority did not.
In addition, a third of respondents said they had not yet applied to the scheme, with many of those citing fears that they would be rejected as they were aware of problems that other applicants had faced.
According to the report, 49% of respondents rated the application process "difficult" (from "slightly" to "very") and 35% said they faced complications in the application process.
38% of respondents said they were asked to provide additional evidence, with a significant number of those saying this should not have been necessary as their tax and National Insurance records should have been sufficient. Some said they found it impossible to provide the necessary evidence and thus felt forced to accept the temporary pre-settled status as they did not have the documents to prove that they were eligible for permanent settled status.
Dozens of respondents said they had experienced technical glitches, communication problems, delays or Home Office mistakes during the application process.
As well as technical problems, Migrant Voice found that the EU Settlement Scheme has a significant negative impact on the health and wellbeing of many applicants and prospective applicants.
"Dozens of people told us they felt ashamed, scapegoated or humiliated by the scheme and the process of applying … Many told us the experience had caused significant stress and anxiety … Others said they were too worried about the process and the outcome to even apply," the report noted.
Migrant Voice said the report's findings were deeply concerning, especially given the consequences for those whose applications are refused or who do not apply before the deadline.
"There is an urgent need for a more efficient and accurate application processing system, for an end to the policy that will turn unknown numbers of UK residents into undocumented migrants, and for an expansion of support networks where these are needed most," the report stated.
Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice, said:
"While we welcome the fact that many people are finding the process a smooth one, it is troubling that so many people are facing significant technical problems, poor guidance, delays and a lack of communication. The severe impact on the health and wellbeing of so many of those applying or facing the prospect of it is equally concerning.
"We call on all UK politicians and all who have a role to play in the continued development and implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme to read this report and act swiftly on its recommendations.
"The message, repeated so often by our politicians, that EEA nationals and their families are welcome here must be made a reality through legislation that guarantees their rights, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, and through a declaratory or registration scheme that works for all."