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30 May 2019

EU settlement scheme failing small firms as fewer than one in 10 EU citizens have status approved

The Home Office has today announced that fewer than 300,000 EU citizens – under 10% of those believed to be currently resident in the UK – have been granted ‘settled status’.

Originally envisaged as a straightforward means to guaranteeing the futures of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit, the settled status scheme was originally trialled in August 2018.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “One in five small employers depend on staff from the EU. The vast majority of these vital employees are mid or high-skilled.

“Certain sectors are massively dependent on the skills provided by EU team members. Small construction firms, care providers, retailers and hospitality businesses in particular will be hugely concerned that the futures of so many EU citizens are still up in the air.     

“We’re almost a year on from the initial roll-out of the settled status scheme, but still under one in ten EU citizens have had their applications approved. That’s not good enough.  

“We need a cast-iron guarantee that the glitches and data breaches that have dogged this scheme will not come back to haunt the millions of EU citizens that contribute so much to our business community.

“Awareness of this scheme needs to be made a priority, particularly for vulnerable and harder to reach groups of EU citizens, including the self-employed.”