Almost a million EU citizens are yet be granted status with £9m grant funding programme slated to close on 31 March
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A Home Office minister has said that the department is “exploring options” for what to do once a grant funding scheme to support vulnerable EU citizens apply for settled status closes at the end of this month.
Just under a year ago, the government allotted a cumulative tally of £9m to 57 charities and community groups to support them in helping vulnerable people to apply to the EU settlement scheme. This money was intended to help spread the word among those who may not otherwise have been aware of the requirement for settled status, and also then assist those people in completing the digital application process.
The government estimated that about 200,000 people would be in need of this additional support.
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At the time, then home secretary Sajid Javid said: “It’s vital no one is left behind and we support vulnerable people who may have difficulties applying.”
That tranche of funding runs out at the end of March, and no decision has yet been taken on whether the scheme will be renewed or replaced with another source of money – or closed down altogether.
The latest set of quarterly government statistics showed that, as of 31 December, 2.7 million applications have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme. This would mean that approximately 900,000 people – one in four of the UK’s estimated total of 3.6 million EU nationals – have not yet applied.
Those that wish to do so have until 31 June 2021 to complete the process.
In answer to a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft, security minister James Brokenshire said that “The Home Office is always looking at ways to make sure everyone secures the status they are eligible for.”
He added: “The current grant funding scheme continues until the end of March 2020, and the Home Office is currently exploring options.”