Bishop Paul McAleenan has called on the government to waive proposed registration fees for EU citizens who will struggle to pay.
The government has proposed that all EU adults in the UK will have to pay £65 and £32.50 for children to register under the EU Settlement Scheme to be brought in as part of the UK’s move to leave the EU. The government’s stated intention is to ensure anyone eligible for settled status can apply.
The lead bishop for migration and asylum wrote to Minister of State for Immigration Caroline Nokes calling for “a fee-waiver for larger families, people in particularly vulnerable positions or those facing economic hardship”.
Bishop McAleenan pointed out that the majority of EU citizens in the EU are Catholic and safeguarding their rights was a priority for the Catholic Church. Through discussions with Catholic parishes and charities, he wrote, it has become clear that the proposed registration fee was likely to present a significant barrier for some people who wished to continue living in the UK and contributing to our society.
“The impact is likely to be particularly severe for larger families on low incomes, many of whom are already unable to afford basic outgoings such as food and household bills, and may now need to spend several hundred pounds on applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. In the most severe cases particularly vulnerable people, including many of those whoa re currently homeless, will simply be unable to pay the registration fee at all, meaning they will lose their status or the cost will fall on charities with already very limited resources.
“I therefore urge you in the strongest possible terms to include a fee-waiver for larger families, people in particularly vulnerable positions or those facing financial hardship.”