EU fee re-think ‘a help to firms’ - The Evesham Observer

EU fee re-think ‘a help to firms’

Evesham Editorial 26th Jan, 2019 Updated: 26th Jan, 2019   0

A DECISION to scrap a £65 charge allowing European Union citizens to stay in the UK after Brexit has been welcomed by Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin.

The West Worcestershire MP backed a Government U-turn on the fee which was revealed on the day all EU citizens were able to register for the new post-Brexit ‘settled status’.

Prime Minister Theresa May revealed the decision on Monday (January 21) and said the move would mean people wishing to settle in this country after Brexit would not be left out of pocket.

The settlement scheme will open when the UK leaves the European Union and the Home Office has vowed to refund anyone who has already begun the process.

“European workers are extremely valuable to our local economy doing vital jobs for national employers like the NHS, working in jobs as diverse as manufacturing and cyber security and even carrying out important tasks for our local farmers and food producers,” Mrs Baldwin said.

“I welcome this news EU nationals who wish to settle in the UK will not be out of pocket by applying to remain here and I hope this news brings some reassurance both to workers and their employers.”

The Home Office is extending its trial to all EU citizens who hold a valid passport and any non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid biometric residence card.

Despite the U-turn, critics of the scheme have warned the system could become a new Windrush scandal as the scheme to register an estimated 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK begins.

Thousands could be left without legal status to remain in the UK if applications are not processed quickly and effectively, according to independent think tanks such as British Future.

Jill Rutter, director of strategy for British Future and co-author of the report ‘Getting it right from the start: Securing the future for EU citizens in the UK’, said: “The Home Office must invest in getting the EU settlement scheme right from the start. Failure to do so could cause massive problems in years to come, on a far bigger scale than the Windrush scandal.

“The application system should work simply and efficiently for the vast majority of EU citizens. But there will always be more complex cases where people find it harder to navigate the system or to prove their residency – and the sheer scale of this task means even a low rate of failure equates to tens of thousands of people.

“The stakes are high. Get it right and the UK sends a strong message that EU citizens are welcome and the government is in control.

“Get it wrong and the consequences are dire.”

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