The government is facing pressure to lift the deadline on the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to prevent thousands of EU care workers from losing their right to live in the UK.
As a result, the care sector faces being “devastated” at a time when it is already under significant pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report warns.
The research, which is based on an online survey and in-person interviews with 295 EU care workers, reveals that one in seven care workers do not know what the EUSS is, while one in three are not aware of the deadline.
The JCWI has called on the government to lift the deadline for applying for the EUSS; grant all EEA+ citizens (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) automatic settled status; ensure all EEA+ citizens are aware of the scheme before a new deadline is imposed; and publish clear guidance for late applications.
Caitlin Boswell, author of the report and EU citizens project officer at JCWI said: “We are still in the middle of a pandemic, while the EUSS deadline is less than six months away, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel must act now to prevent EU citizens from losing their right to live in the UK and providing the services we so rely on. This includes thousands of care workers and others who have worked tirelessly throughout the past year, putting their lives and their families’ lives on the line to get us through this crisis.
“The window of time for EU citizens to apply to the EUSS was already extremely short and now COVID has used up around half of that. It couldn’t be more urgent that the Government lift the EUSS deadline, otherwise tens of thousands of EU citizens face losing their right to remain in June.”
A Spanish Care Assistant for disabled people, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “When they talk on the news about the “heroes” it’s the doctors and nurses. But us? It’s a little bit like we’re left behind.
“The Government, they are forgetting that people who work here came from the EU as key workers. They don’t even mention them. There’s a lack of respect.”