First Minister urges UK Government to scrap settlement scheme fees.
The UK Government must urgently call a halt to plans to charge EU citizens a fee for settling in the UK post-Brexit, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Under the UK Government’s proposals, EU citizens will have to pay £65 to apply for settled status - potentially affecting 223,000 people in Scotland.
The First Minister raised her concerns in a speech at the Health and Social Care Scotland conference in Glasgow. Latest statistics show the health and social care sector employs around 13,000 EU nationals, which is 3.5% of the sector’s 387,000 workforce.
The First Minister said:
“It is unacceptable that the UK Government insists on charging EU citizens, including children, a fee to apply for a status they are already entitled to.
“The Scottish Government is committed to paying the fee for EU citizens working in our devolved public services. However the UK Government will not allow third party payments, thereby forcing EU citizens to pay it up-front.
“EU citizens working in our public services are crucial to their successful delivery. It is of great concern that the more barriers the UK Government places on enabling people to stay in the UK, the more people could be forced to leave.
“In Scotland we are already seeing a drop in applications from nurses from across the EU - and that is hardly surprising given the hostile environment being created by UK Government policy.
“The UK Government has consistently failed to deliver a suitable migration policy for Scotland. Instead of forcing charges upon EU citizens, the UK Government should value the doctors, nurses and carers working day in day out to provide care in our times of need, and drop the settled status fee.”
The First Minister was speaking at the Health and Social Care Scotland conference in Glasgow.
The fee is part of the EU Settlement Status which will open fully in March 2019 and people participating in the early pilot are already being charged a fee.
Latest estimates of the EU national population are published by National Records of Scotland. A breakdown of non-UK nationals in Scotland’s workforce, Analysis from the Annual Population Survey July 2017 to June 2018, is available.
Research by Ipsos Mori into the contribution of non-UK EU workers to the social care workforce in Scotland was published by Scottish Government in July 2018. In the adult social care workforce, around 7.3% of registered nurses and 5.5% of all staff were non-UK EU nationals.
ONS data showed migration to Scotland has slowed with net migration remaining unchanged over the year to December 2017. The UK level statistics show EU net migration is now at its lowest since 2012. Net migration for EU8 citizens has decreased sharply over the last two years and in the latest year more EU8 citizens left the UK than arrived.
Scottish Government analysis has found people in Scotland could be £1,600 a year worse off under the UK Government’s proposed Brexit deal.