BREXIT: EU citizens struggling with paperwork

EU citizens who need to apply to stay in Sheffield after Brexit are finding the process incredibly difficult.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 4:34 pm
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 3:26 pm
Coun Martin Smith

Councillors and Voluntary Action Sheffield say applying for settled status is challenging and complex.

Coun Martin Smith told a scrutiny meeting one of the most important things the council could do was help people with paperwork.

“I met a woman from the Netherlands who speaks fluent English and she is struggling. People are finding it incredibly difficult,” he said.

“What is the impact on EU nationals living and working in our city? Do we know how many people will be impacted by the right to remain? How many may choose to leave the city? How can we work out the level of support to communities if we don’t know how many people need our help?”

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Maddy Desforges, chief executive of Voluntary Action Sheffield, said: “People are finding it very challenging to get settled status, this isn’t about the council, it’s a national policy.

“Some people have lived here tens of years, are having to prove who they are and being sent to the back of queue because the bank letter they took didn’t have a statement and details of the amount of money in the account.

“The amount of time and emotional energy that is taking is really significant and we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that is having on people and their families.”

Eugene Walker, executive director of resources, said the council was pushing the government for up to date figures on how many people were affected.

He said: “You raise a good point about the information and how many people and it’s difficult to get. There are some national figures and we did get some figures in September about the level of applications in all of South Yorkshire.

“We have asked the Home Office for more up to date figures in terms of the number of Sheffield residents that have applied.

“At the moment the Government are saying they can only give us a breakdown of those figures in November and we have asked for them earlier because without that we can’t identify what the gaps are.

“It’s not just us pressing for that, other authorities are also asking for a breakdown of those figures.”

Mr Walker said the council working with groups in the city to help people apply.

“The Home Office website is there for people to apply and one of the things we are trying to do is more communication and to encourage people to apply and give officer support where necessary.

“We are working with voluntary groups, for example Darnall Wellbeing, where they have more direct reach into communities. Some of this is publicising it to hard to reach groups in particular.”