Urgent call to extend EU Settlement Scheme deadline
Published on 05 May 2021 12:00 PM
Age Scotland and Scottish Care urge Home Secretary to protect the rights of older EU nationals living in Scotland
Age Scotland and Scottish Care are among a group of organisations across the UK calling on the Home Secretary to extend the EU Settlement Scheme deadline in order to give older people the widest opportunity to register and retain their rights to continue living in the UK.
In an open letter published today (Wednesday 5 May), organisations working for older people share concerns that some, particularly those who may have lived in the UK for many years, or are living in care homes or living with dementia, may be unaware of their requirement to register for the Scheme or unable to do so due to various barriers.
Age Scotland estimate that there could be more than 1,600 over 65s who are eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme but are yet to apply.
The organisations have issued a joint call stressing the importance of avoiding a repeat of the shocking injustice faced by members of the Windrush Generation and urging the Home Secretary to provide assurance that no older person will lose their rights, be denied treatment and other benefits, or be forcibly removed from the UK because they were unaware that they needed to register for the Scheme.
Age Scotland’s Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, said:
“We're concerned that there remains a significant number of eligible older EU citizens, possibly more than 1,600 over 65s in Scotland, who have not yet applied to the scheme and could face real difficulty in their lives if the deadline is not extended.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the news and public consciousness, some people simply may not be aware of the requirement to apply to the settlement scheme.
“Others may have faced practical barriers to applying over the last year – either because they do not have access to the required technology or they have been unable to access the face-to-face support they need due to public health restrictions.
“It’s vital that older people are granted the support and sufficient time needed to register for the EU settlement scheme, and this simply won’t be possible if the deadline remains the same. We’re urging the Home Secretary to act as a matter of urgency and commit to extending the deadline in order to safeguard the rights of all older people affected.”
Chief Executive of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, said:
“We are very concerned that due to the impact of the pandemic that there will be older people who will not be aware that they are required to apply for settled status.
“As a membership organisation Scottish Care is alerting both care home and homecare members to make them aware of the deadline. It would be of immeasurable help to potentially some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens if the deadline date was extended.”
-- Ends --
Notes to editors:
Letter reads as follows:
Dear Home Secretary,
Extension of the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme
We are writing to request that you extend the deadline for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to register for the EU Settlement Scheme to enable further publicity of the requirement to register for the Scheme, more targeted promotion of the support available and increased time for older people to complete their applications.
We share concerns that some older people, particularly those who may have lived in the UK for many years, or are living in care homes or living with dementia, may be unaware of their requirement to register for the Scheme.
The Covid-19 pandemic and elections scheduled across the UK have limited the opportunities available to older people, who must apply for it, to find out about the Scheme. Much of the publicity has also been focused on individuals’ rights to work in the UK and could therefore have not seemed relevant to older people that have retired and lived here for many decades.
Many older people may also face barriers to accessing the application due to the digital-only nature of the process and could have difficulty accessing the relevant documentation required to be able to prove their eligibility, particularly those living in care homes. These documents may have been lost, destroyed or are not accessible, and extending the deadline would provide more time for these documents to be recovered.
Whilst the levels of registration vary across the different nations and regions of the UK, we must ensure that all those that need to register can do so and that no one is left behind.
Given this risk, we also call on you to provide assurance that no older person will lose their rights, be denied treatment and other benefits, or be forcibly removed from the UK because they were unaware that they needed to register for the Scheme.
We must avoid a repeat of the shocking injustice faced by members of the Windrush Generation and ensure that all older EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are given the widest opportunity to register for the EU Settlement Scheme and retain their rights to continue living in the UK and contributing to our communities.
Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
Victoria Lloyd, Chief Executive, Age Cymru
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age Scotland
Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive, Scottish Care
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Independent Age
Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland
Linda Robinson, Chief Executive, Age NI