The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has joined forces with other organisations1 working for older people across the UK to call on the Home Secretary to extend the deadline for the EU settlement scheme due to concerns that some older people have been unable to register for the scheme, or may be unaware of their requirement to do so, and may lose their rights to continue living in the UK.
They say that extending the deadline would enable opportunities for further publicity of the requirement to register for the scheme, more targeted promotion of the support available and increased time for older people to complete their applications.
In an open letter published today, they highlight the barriers that may prevent older people from registering, including the digital-only nature of the process and difficulties accessing relevant documentation to prove eligibility, particularly for people living in care homes or those living with dementia.
In addition, they say that much of the publicity relating to the scheme has been focused on the right of individuals to work in the UK and may have not seemed relevant to older people who have retired and lived here for many decades.
They are calling on the Home Secretary to provide assurance that no older person will lose their rights, be denied treatment and other benefits, or be forcibly removed from the UK because they were unaware that they needed to register for the Scheme.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“It’s crucial that older people who may have been unable to register for the EU settlement scheme, or those who were unaware of the need to do so, do not lose their rights and have the time and support they may need to register.
“It’s important to recognise that many of those yet to register for the scheme will be older people living in care homes, or those living with dementia, who may be particularly vulnerable. The pandemic has also limited the opportunities available to older people to find out about the scheme and the action they need to take.
“We must avoid a repeat of the shocking injustice faced by members of the Windrush Generation and ensure that all older EU, EEA and Swiss nationals are given the widest opportunity to register for the scheme and retain their rights to continue living in the UK.
“This will only be possible if the Home Secretary makes a commitment to extending the deadline and provides the assurances we are calling for.”
Read the letter to the Home Secretary
1: Letter signatories are as follows:
Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
Victoria Lloyd, Chief Executive, Age Cymru
Brian Sloan, Chief Executive, Age Scotland
Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive, Scottish Care
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive, Independent Age
Eddie Lynch, Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland
Linda Robinson, Chief Executive, Age NI