Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Once we were a community, now we’re segregating and discriminating

by Susan van de Ven on 31 January, 2019



Written Question to Council, 5 February 2019
Cllr Susan van de Ven

Cambridgeshire County Council has a statutory obligation to make non-British EU citizens living in Cambridgeshire aware of the need to apply for Settled Status, post-Brexit, in order to secure their right to remain living in the UK; and also, to apply for Settled Status on behalf of vulnerable children and vulnerable adults, although Government has not yet provided a definition of what constitutes a vulnerable adult.

A resident in my division who might be designated as a vulnerable adult has endeavoured to apply for Settled Status in the public test phase that commenced on 21 January. This process has highlighted procedural points of concern, and questions about who should be considered a vulnerable adult.

The resident is a German citizen 80 years of age, resident in the UK for 58 years, divorced from a British spouse, with limited income, a council tenant, no private transport, no Android phone and no computer or internet access.

The application for Settled Status must be done on-line: this can be done via computer rather than smartphone, however required documentation must first be scanned via a Home Office app downloaded onto an Android device with specified features.

The nearest Cambridgeshire Libraries are in Cambridge or Great Shelford, but there are no bus services from this person’s village to either destination. Nevertheless, once at a library, help would be required to set up a first-time email account and help with navigating a computer and internet, in order to work through a lengthy and complex application process.

In this person’s case, a neighbour offered to help scan required identity documents with his Android phone, but could not successfully download the app (in common with experience reported by Addenbrooke’s when its non-British EU employees went through the pilot phase in Nov-Dec 2018).

If an applicant cannot complete document scanning via an Android device, he or she needs to visit an EU Settlement Resolution Centre, of which there are none in Cambridgeshire. The nearest to South Cambridgeshire is the Hertfordshire Register Office in Hatfield, but this person has no access to transport to reach the centre. Once at the centre, the service provided would be limited to the scanning of documents. The application process would then need to be resumed on line at a library or private computer.

This person’s experience raises the following questions:

How will the Council identify its vulnerable adults?

Will the Council adopt its own compassionate definition of vulnerable adults to include people who are frail, isolated and on limited income?

In addition to the waiving of library internet charges, what steps can the Council take to facilitate the ability of EU residents to access and complete the application process for Settled Status?


2 Responses

  1. Martin Cahn says:

    Susan, my wife is an EU citizen and is terrified of applying since she expects to be rejected. It is not beyond the wit of man to devise a practical system. We were told minimal details would be required. It is not proving thus. Why not do this vi’s local authorities. In Europe one needs to register at the Town Hall. District Councils have electoral registers. Why not simply register people in municipalities on the basis of electoral register evidence. Do we really need to prove work or study? And can we not use a simple declaration by parents or guardians for those under 18? What have we become that we presume that people are cheating? Where is the trusting non-bureaucratic country I knew in my youth? Maybe Brexit is built on nostalgia, but this is the nostalgia that I crave, not Brexit.

    • Martin, thank you for this. I can understand why your wife is terrified of applying. When I rang the EU Settlement Resolution Centre to pose my list of questions, each time the advisor said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure – could you please hold while I check?’ Being at the mercy of bureaucrats who don’t necessarily understand the rules but hold the power to decide is a risky thing (we’ve learned this the hard way in my family). Nevertheless, on the matter of using district councils and town halls which after all hold electoral registers, indeed why not – let’s ask. But as you say the bigger picture, even if one can find a way of navigating through it, shows a new ugly structure for organizing society. Someone else – a lawyer – has written to ask whether the case outlined in this post contains breaches of human rights.

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