Tuesday, July 5

130,000 EU citizens in the UK may lose their social benefits

At least 130,000 citizens of the European Union residing in the United Kingdom run the risk of losing their health care and other social benefits, according to the official figures of the residence applications processed so far, required of Community citizens after the Brexit.

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Just nine days before the deadline to request settled status [el trámite exigido para poder permanecer en el país y conservar todos los derechos], the figures leaked by the newspaper The Times show that 130,000 of the 820,000 Europeans currently receiving benefits (from child allowances to rent supplements) have not yet applied for a residency certificate.

Around 70% of these 130,000 people are in a situation of vulnerability. Of these, more than 90,000 receive the universal income [un subsidio de la seguridad social británica para personas en edad de trabajar y con ingresos bajos].

Starting in July, people from EU countries will have to prove that they have obtained settled or pre-settled status through a website, in order to be able to rent, work or apply for benefits in the UK.

Social organizations argue that the lack of formalization of this procedure can change the lives of those affected, to the point of causing them to lose their home or their job due to the large fines faced by owners and employers as part of the anti-immigration policy.

Although the British Government has said time and again that it is enough to have applied for the status to have the rights protected after July 1, some local authorities are warning their residents that they will withdraw their housing and payment aid of municipal taxes if they do not prove their status as settled or pre-settled before June 30.

Warning letters from some municipalities

The Northamptonshire City Council informed a man of Polish nationality, who suffers from mental illness, that it will reject his application for help to finance housing and for the payment of municipal taxes if he does not prove his settlement status by June 26.

The 31-year-old (he asked not to be identified) lost his home after a nervous breakdown and lives in a hotel room paid for by the City Council. In April he asked to be granted settled status and is one of more than 330,000 applicants still waiting for a response from the Interior Ministry. He is afraid of being without a roof. “The stress of being evicted is having a very bad effect on my health,” he says. “The City Council does not seem to understand that I cannot rush the Ministry of the Interior.”

“It appears that the resident in question has received a standard letter from the City Council on the deadlines set for providing the information to support his request,” explains a spokesman for the City Council. “It was done in error and we apologize for the concerns caused, the customer will have more time to provide the requested information and we will write to let them know.”

“We are making sure that all people receiving benefits have every opportunity to apply for the settlement plan for EU members,” a spokesman for the prime minister, Boris Johnson, said on Monday.

“We are working hard to identify all benefit recipients who have not yet applied for it and encourage them to do so; all those who have applied for the scheme before the June 30 deadline will have their rights protected until made a decision on your application in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. ”

According to the right to housing charity Shelter, there are EU citizens who could be left homeless. “When the government introduced the settlement plan for EU citizens, it promised that no one would be left homeless, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who are at risk of losing their home by the end of this month,” says Polly Neate, the director. by Shelter.

“We are witnessing threats of eviction and withdrawals of aid,” says Maike Bohn, co-founder of the3million, an organization of EU citizens in the UK. “It is very worrying that local authorities are sending terrifying letters to the very people they have an obligation to protect.”

Starting in July, landlords must check whether their tenants have settled or pre-settled status. The UK government’s detailed guidelines were not released until June 7 and, according to rental agents, that left landlords with little time, who face fines of up to £ 3,000 per tenant. “This has been the first clear guidance we had on how the new system works,” says a spokesperson for the rental platform Goodlord.co.uk.

The Interior Ministry has said that until July 1, landlords “must not discriminate against citizens of the EU or the European Economic Area who have not yet obtained status or who decide to use their passport or national identity card to prove their right to rent “. As indicated, “there is a telephone helpline in case employers and landlords need any guidance in this regard.”