18 May, 2021
"Free Movement" to and from the EU ended on 31 December 2020. As a result of this, new rules came into force on 1 January 2021 which affect who can receive help with benefits, housing allocation and homelessness.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members must now apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK. The scheme is only open to citizens that started living in the UK before 31 December 2020. The deadline to apply is 30 June 2021. Applications do not need to be made where citizens have been granted indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
There are two categories which will determine the rights and entitlements granted to eligible citizens. Settled status will be granted to those who have five year's continuous residence in the UK, subject to certain exceptions. Alternatively, citizens with less than five years will be granted pre-settled status. An application can be made to change this to settled status once they have reached the required five years.
The Government website confirms that citizens with settled or pre-settled status are entitled to "work in the UK, use the NHS for free, enrol in education or study in the UK, access public funds such as benefits and pensions (subject to eligibility) and travel in and out of the UK." Settled status allows citizens and their family members access to housing help whereas pre-settled status does not yet. Although those with pre-settled status may be able to show alternative evidence of entitlement.
Following the deadline, those that have already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme will keep any previous entitlements until a decision is made as do late applications that have been accepted and appeals awaiting a decision.
Housing associations are being encouraged to raise awareness of the scheme with their staff and tenants to ensure that eligible citizens apply and signpost/provide additional support to those that may need it. They may also be asked to provide evidence of residency to support the applications. Housing associations are also being asked to remind applicants to apply for settled status when eligible. It is crucial that all those that are affected submit their application prior to the deadline to avoid losing their rights and being adversely treated.
Further guidance is available at Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status) - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For more information contact Zayna Ibrahim in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220226. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.