London mayor plans online portal for EU nationals

London mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed to invest £90,000 in an online portal to help EU nationals who live in the capital find the information they need to stay in the UK after Brexit.

The website will provide details about their rights, for example with regard to employment and access to services. It will also signpost the most vulnerable to legal advice and support services in London.

“The Government dragged its feet in respecting the rights of EU nationals in the UK, so it is fully understandable that many living here in the capital are still nervous about the process for them remaining here,” said Sadiq Khan. “There are approximately one million European Londoners – and they are part of the fabric of this city – working hard, paying taxes and playing a major role in civic and cultural life. They will always be welcome here. They are also vital to some of our most productive industries, including science, technology and research.”

London is more reliant on EU workers than any other British region. EU residents in the capital were about a third of the 3 million living in the UK and 13% of the city workforce.

A report published by the London Assembly last year showed that certain sectors are especially reliant EU workers. In 2015, EU nationals represented approximately a third of employees in the accommodation and food service industry and in tech, a quarter in construction, and 10% in the National Health Service (NHS).

EU citizens currently benefit of free movement within the European Union. But after the UK leaves the bloc, EU nationals will have to apply for “settled status” to be able to stay in the country. While an agreement was reached with the EU in December on maintaining some of the current rights, negotiations continue on the full package. It is not known what will happen if Brexit talks collapse.

Barbara Drozdowicz, Chief Executive Officer of the East European Resource Centre, said: “We estimate there may be as many as 25,000 Eastern European Londoners who may struggle with accessing the new settled scheme. Barriers include lack of awareness, poor English skill, low confidence in using technical legal language to tackle applications and difficulties resulting from frail health or age.”

“The provision of accessible and accurate information and advice will be essential to ensuring the rights of EEA nationals during the Brexit process,” commented Adrian Berry, Chair of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.

Sadiq Khan called for the UK to remain part of the EU single market, therefore maintaining freedom of movement with the EU. A report published by the Centre for London, an organisation created in 2011 to deal with the challenges of the city, and the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath, looked at the Brexit risks “that disproportionately affect” the British capital and suggested London should be given more autonomy.

 

Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
Photo: street art in East London, via Pixabay.

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