Age Scotland concern as Lords report highlights rights of older EU citizens in Scotland at risk
Published on 23 July 2021 03:54 PM
The national charity for older people has expressed concern over a failure to safeguard the rights of older EU citizens in Scotland, following the publication of a new report which suggests thousands failed to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the 30 June deadline.
The figures, released today (23 July) by the House of Lords European Affairs Committee, reveal that only 2% of all applications for the EU Settlement Scheme, were from people aged over 65.
Age Scotland, together with other organisations working for older people, wrote to the Home Secretary in May calling for an urgent extension to the scheme due to fears that older people, particularly those who had lived in the UK for many years, those in care homes or living with dementia, faced barriers preventing them from applying to the Scheme while others may simply have been unaware of their requirement to register.
Now, the charity say their fears have been confirmed and are seeking assurance that no older person will lose their rights because they were unaware or unable to apply.
Age Scotland’s Head of Policy and Communications, Adam Stachura, said:
“Despite best efforts to seek an extension to the EU Settlement Scheme and protect the rights of older EU nationals living in Scotland, it seems a huge number of older people have been missed.
“This is hugely concerning and demonstrates why we had been working to increase awareness of the scheme and need to apply. Our calls to the Home Secretary in early May to extend the application period were entirely justified, but unfortunately the 30 June deadline remained fixed.
“We’re concerned that over 65s who should have applied may not have done so as they felt it was only aimed at people looking to live and work here, while others may have faced a significant barrier due to having no smartphone or internet access, and lacked the appropriate documentation.
“The report also demonstrates how desperately hard it was to get reliable data on numbers of potential outstanding applicants before the deadline, which would have allowed for better understanding of what more needed to be done to reach them.
“Going forward, it’s vital that no older EU citizen loses their rights, is denied treatment and other benefits, or is forcibly removed from the UK because they were unaware that they needed to register for the Scheme.
“We also welcome the call for a physical version of the EUSS status, as a digital-only option would see thousands of digitally excluded older people left out of the loop.”
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Notes to editors:
- The European Affairs Committee report on Citizens’ Rights for UK citizens resident in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK is available here: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/516/european-affairs-committee/news/156839/vulnerable-and-elderly-europeans-in-uk-at-risk-of-losing-rights/