Daniel Zeichner, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, and Alex Mayer, Member of the European Parliament for the East of England, have slammed the Government for disadvantaging European citizens in the East of England who are trying to apply for settled status. They have responded to the announcement that no ID scanner, which many will require for the process, will be located in Cambridge with outrage, stating that many of their constituents will face additional costs and time to apply for EU Settled Status. Mr Zeichner has written to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, to complain.
Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, said: “It beggars belief that the Home Office has decided not to locate an ID scanner in Cambridge given the large number of non-UK EU nationals living in the city, and surrounding areas. This will further unsettle the thousands of EU residents in Cambridge who already feel anxious about their status and their future rights. Since the referendum this Government has been using EU nationals as bargaining chips throughout their negotiations, which the Labour Party has repeatedly condemned. We have called on the Government to unilaterally recognise the rights of EU nationals throughout the process. There should be no barriers for EU citizens who have made Cambridge their home and now wish to obtain Settled Status. I urge the Home Office to look again at this and ensure that EU citizens have fair and equal access to this service.”
Alex Mayer, Member of European Parliament for the East of England, said: “This is another kick in the teeth for Cambridge’s EU citizens who once again are being made to feel unwelcome. People who live and work in Cambridge and call the city home will be faced with travelling huge distances costing them time and money. The Home Office should apologise and put a scanner in Cambridge.”
The EU Settled Status Scheme was launched on 30th March 2019, however has already faced criticism after technical issues occurred on the first day. The Home Office app is also only currently available on Android phones, however it has been announced that the app will be available on Apple Phones by the end of the year. For those unable to access the service via the app technology, they can request a postal application form and attend one of the ID Scanner Centres to provide the documentation required. Concerns have been voiced by EU citizens’ right groups that access and cost is still an issue.
The citizens’ rights organisation the3million says: “We appreciate that the Home Office has opened more centres but this is not enough. EU citizens in non-urban areas are still forced to travel for hours to use a service designed for people without an Android phone or the technical know-how to use one. We urge the government to offer true local support and advice to EU citizens applying for Settled Status and not make those most in need of support with Settled Status travel for hours, provide no advice and charge them £14.”
Alexandra Bulat, a Romanian Cambridge resident, said: “I eventually got settled status after submitting evidence of every year I’ve lived in the UK, as the automatic checks did not find any record of me. I am privileged to be a PhD researcher, fluent in English and digitally literate, to own the right type of Android device, the right type of scannable ID and to have access to quality information on my rights in the UK.
“The truth is not everyone will be able to apply on their own as I did. Local support is crucial, especially for groups at risk. I was surprised not to find Cambridge, or any of the surrounding towns east of Cambridge, on the list of the 50 local ID scanning services for settled status. Someone in need of support in Cambridge would have to travel to Peterborough, Bedfordshire or London for their closest ID scanning centre. And pay for the service itself on top of that. I am concerned that those most in need of support would be left behind. We were all equally promised that ‘nothing will change’, that we will continue to live our lives ‘as before’. “