The IMA receives complaints as part of our duty to monitor and promote the implementation and application of the Citizens’ Rights parts of the Withdrawal and Separation Agreements.
The IMA received 237 complaints in 2021. Complaints are crucial to help us to understand issues citizens are experiencing with public bodies who feel their rights aren’t being upheld. We use complaints in combination with a variety of other information, to help us consider whether people are being prevented from accessing their rights and what next steps we might want to take.
In this article we detail the types of complaints we received in our first year of operation, including the rights affected, the public bodies involved, and the nationalities of those who registered to complain. We have taken action on the issues raised in these complaints and you can read more about our work in 2021 here.
Complaints to the IMA
Graph 1: Complaints received in 2021
The IMA received 237 complaints in 2021. Graph 1 (above) shows the number of complaints received in each month of 2021. We received the most complaints in May and October.
Graph 2: Complaints received by affected right
Enter and Remain in the UK & Gibraltar
Graph 2 (above) shows that more than half of complaints reported to the IMA relate to the right to enter and remain in the UK. These complaints are, predominantly, connected in some way to the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), run by the Home Office. Complaints about the EUSS have ranged from difficulties with applications, to consequential delays in an application being processed in a timely manner.
Access to Social Security, Housing & Healthcare
The ability to access services provided by other public authorities (including local authorities) forms the second largest group of complaints to the IMA. This group of complaints is diverse, ranging from difficulties applying for proof of national insurance contributions, to challenges related to applications to join housing lists or access to universal credit.
The third largest complaints category relates to reports of discrimination in the context of the other rights, where citizens believe they are not being treated equally. This is the most diverse complaints category, with themes including experiences entering the UK, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, access to education and issues faced by family members of citizens.
Work in the UK & Gibraltar
A number of complaints have been received about the right to work. Themes in these complaints range from difficulties with applications for Frontier Worker permits, to access to status via the digital route.
Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications
The smallest group of complaints received to date relate to the ability to have qualifications previously obtained recognised in the UK. Themes in these complaints have related to healthcare qualifications.
Graph 3: Public authorities named in complaints to the IMA
Graph 3 (above) demonstrates that the majority of the complaints reported to the IMA relate to the Home Office, followed by a collective of smaller public bodies (including Local Authorities), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
Graph 4: Nationalities of citizens who have registered on the IMA’s complaints portal
Finally, 470 citizens registered on the complaints portal in 2021. The IMA’s registered complainants represent 96% of EU member states (26/27). However, only citizens from
Norway have registered from EEA EFTA states. Graph 4 (above) shows the relative proportions of registered citizens by EU country grouping.
It is vital that eligible citizens experiencing difficulties in exercising their rights make us aware of this through our Complaints Portal.
In 2022, we will continue to raise awareness of our work so that EU and EEA EFTA citizens and their family members can exercise their rights as they did before the UK left the EU.