Call for rethink on ‘local’ centres

Moray’s MSP has written to the UK Government seeking an urgent review of the lack of local support for EU citizens in Moray who must apply for settled status to continue to live and work here after Brexit.

In recent days the UK Government published their list of local centres where EU citizens can get their passport scanned to progress their application, with Moray’s ‘local’ centre being in Edinburgh.

In order to apply for settled status applicants need to use an Android app to confirm their identity and those who have any other kind of device, or who aren’t online, have been advised they can seek assistance at their local document scanning centre.  EU citizens in Moray who don’t have a compatible device face a 350 mile round trip to their ‘local’ centre in Edinburgh, a situation Moray’s MSP has described as ludicrous.

All EU citizens living in the UK are required by the Conservative Government to apply for settled status to ensure they continue to have the right to stay here after Brexit.

Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead said: “For some time now MPs and EU citizens have been calling on the UK Government to ensure there is support available in local communities for those who need assistance with their settled status application, or for folks who don’t have an Android device and so can’t access the app to progress their application.

“The ‘local’ service that has now been announced by the UK Government is in fact a complete slap in the face.  The idea that a scanning centre in Edinburgh is considered to be acceptable support for EU citizens in Moray is ludicrous.  Not only do they face a 350 mile round trip, and all the costs involved in that, but they then have to pay a fee to have their passport scanned on top of that.

“These new centres are a complete token effort by the Conservative Government – they are simply scanning centres and once there EU citizens can’t even access any advice about the settled status application process.  People who live in rural areas live Moray, those with disabilities, and the elderly are the ones that will be hit hardest by the lack of support from the UK Government and I just don’t think that this is an acceptable way to treat people who have chosen to live and work in our communities.

“In my view, EU citizens are valued members of our community and they shouldn’t have to apply to remain in their homes and maintain the rights they already have.  But if the Tory Government insists on forcing people to go through this process then it their duty to ensure that support and assistance is accessible, and no one would seriously consider a 350 mile round trip to be reasonably accessible.

“I’ve written to the Home Office to convey in the strongest terms my objection to folks in Moray having to travel to Edinburgh to have their passport scanned, and have urged the Secretary of State to review the lack of provision for EU citizens in Moray and across the north of Scotland.”