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Public Bodies Must Uphold Rights of EU Citizens

The Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) is reminding public bodies of their duty to uphold the rights of EU and EEA EFTA citizens living in the UK and Gibraltar.

As the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) passes the IMA particularly wants to remind public bodies of the need for care in considering the status of citizens who have applied to the EUSS but have not yet received the results of their application.

For example, the IMA is aware of reported issues and inconsistencies with some local authorities warning EU citizens that they will be removed from housing waiting lists if they cannot provide proof of settled status. This is despite the fact that EU citizens awaiting the outcome of their EUSS application should have their rights protected until a decision has been made.

The IMA is, therefore, reminding public bodies that citizens’ rights should be protected until the outcome of applications to the EUSS has been concluded. Home Office statistics as of the end of May show there is a backlog of more than 330,000 applications to the scheme yet to be decided.

These concerns about the treatment of citizens have been raised with the umbrella bodies for local authorities as well as the devolved administrations.

Since the IMA came into being on 31st December 2020 it has heard concerns from citizens in a number of different areas including with applying to the EUSS.

The IMA is in ongoing dialogue with government departments such as the Home Office about issues that affect EU citizens’ rights and works closely with parliaments in the UK and Gibraltar, as well as with advocacy groups, charities and regulatory bodies to raise awareness of its role.

Dr Kathryn Chamberlain, IMA CEO said:

“As the deadline for applications to the EUSS passes it is crucial that all public bodies are aware of what they should and should not be doing in terms of ensuring that citizens from the EU have the confidence to get on with their lives.

“We are, therefore, reminding public bodies of their duty to uphold the rights of citizens and in particular to refrain from making punitive decisions after the end of the grace period in relation to citizens who are waiting for their application to be concluded. We anticipate that public bodies will work closely together to ensure that late applications are treated appropriately with regards to continuation of services.

“If EU citizens feel that their rights have been, or are likely to be, breached they should complain directly to the public body concerned. However, we would also encourage them to report their complaint to us at the IMA to help us identify and address systemic issues. EU citizens can lodge complaints with the IMA through our online portal.”