The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to scrap the June 2021 deadline for EU citizens to apply for the right to stay in the UK, as new Home Office figures reveal a big drop in the number of Settled Status applications and grants last month.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the Government to take up her European Citizens’ Rights Bill, which would give EU citizens in the UK before Brexit the automatic right to stay, with no deadline.
The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics, published this morning, show that just 41,600 people were granted Settled Status in April, down from 77,800 in March and 157,000 in January. The number of applications to the scheme has also fallen sharply, from 351,800 in January to 125,000 in March and 67,300 in April.
In total, only half of the estimated 3.6 million EU citizens in the UK before Brexit have been granted Settled Status, despite the Prime Minister’s repeated promise that all of them would automatically be given the right to stay.
Today’s figures show a backlog of 315,900 people still waiting for a decision on their application. A further 1.3 million people have been granted only the temporary Pre-Settled Status, meaning they will have to reapply within five years or lose the right to stay.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“The coronavirus crisis has shone a spotlight on the enormous contributions EU citizens make to our public services, our economy and our society. They must have the right to stay.
“No one ever seriously believed the Home Office would be able to ensure every EU citizen had Settled Status by June next year, but the coronavirus crisis makes it impossible.
“It’s completely understandable that Settled Status applications and grants have dropped so dramatically as people focus on the devastating impact of this pandemic. Ministers must adapt to this new reality and scrap their arbitrary deadline.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens. I urge the Prime Minister to honour his promise to give them the automatic right to stay in the UK and take up my Bill which would do just that.”