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West Country councils come together to help EU citizens stay in UK

With the deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme on 30 June, councils in the West Country have been working together to help European Union (EU) citizens stay in the UK.

Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils have been working together to make sure every EU citizen who wants to stay living in the UK is aware of the scheme and knows how to get help to apply if they need it.

With the deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme rapidly approaching, digital ad vans telling EU nationals that they would like them to stay can be seen around the region.

The vans, which can be spotted throughout the West Country throughout June are just one of the ways the councils are getting the message out to EU nationals, with all activity funded by the Avon and Somerset Local Resilience Forum (A&S LRF).

As well as this, radio adverts, posts on social media and posters and translated postcards are also being rolled out.

Leaders in the region fear the Covid-19 pandemic may have prevented people getting help to apply if they need it, or delayed applications.

There is also a concern that older EU nationals who have lived in the UK most of their lives may not be aware they need to apply, or that parents may not know they need to apply for their children.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, wrote to the Home Office along with other city leaders asking for the deadline to be extended due to these concerns, but this was rejected.

Commenting, Mr
Rees said: “It’s unfortunate the deadline for EU nationals to apply to the scheme has not been extended given the challenges the last year has brought.

However, we’re pleased to have received this funding from the LRF to allow us to continue to carry out work in the region in partnership with our neighbouring authorities.

As a city of sanctuary, we’re determined that everyone who wants to stay living, working and studying here should have the opportunity to apply and be able to access support services if they need it.

As well as the boost from the LRF, the Home Office is working with other government departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs to identify and write to or text EU nationals about the need to apply.

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