All the organisations are funded by the Home Office to support marginalised EU children, young people and citizens to make applications to the EUSS, but they warn that, despite this support, significant numbers of people remain at risk of losing their rights on 30 June. The organisations say that their success in helping many people apply to the EUSS should not be used by the Government to deny the existence of tens of thousands of EU citizens who are in danger of being left behind by the scheme.
If even one percent of the millions of EU citizens resident in the UK are unable to apply, that would leave thousands of EEA+ children and young people undocumented, vulnerable to exploitation and facing hostile environment policies including detention and removal.
The letter points out that this would be true even without the global pandemic, as no comparable scheme has ever succeeded in reaching 100% of its audience. “But the onset of the COVID pandemic and necessary Government-enforced restrictions have made much of our work significantly more difficult due to a switch to virtual support and limiting of services. Without this in-person support, some of the people we assist do not feel confident or able to make an application to the EUSS, for example where there is limited digital capacity. In addition, many embassies have been forced to close so cannot process identity documents, which has created further delays and challenges to our work.”
Marianne Lagrue, Policy Manager, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, says: “It is positive that the Home Office has provided funding for charities, local authorities and community organisations to reach some vulnerable EU citizens and family members, and that it continues for a short time beyond the EUSS deadline. However, that funding could never reach everyone. If anything, it has demonstrated to us as grant-funded organisations the high level of need that still exists with barely three weeks to go. The support work undertaken by grant-funded organisations should not be used as a justification for not taking action to amend the EUSS to protect the rights of EU citizens and their families.”
The letter concludes: “We strongly urge the Government to lift the EUSS deadline and ensure continuity of support to ensure all EEA+ citizens can secure their status and rights. This is the only way to ensure that all our European friends, neighbours and the people we support can continuing living their lives lawfully in the UK. With the EUSS deadline now in a matter of weeks, we ask that you to treat this as a matter of urgency.”