In a meeting held on 24 September, Cabinet members agreed that Ceredigion County Council would provide an ‘over the counter’ identification verification process for applicants to the Home Office’s European Union Settlement Scheme.
The Registrar’s offices based at Canolfan Rheidol will be accepting appointments from applicants from the end of September. The service will be very useful for anyone who is not able to upload their ID documents.
The application process for the European Union Settlement Scheme went fully live on 30 March 2019 for EU citizens and family members. To continue to live, work and study in the UK, applications will need to be made by the 31 December 2020.
The application process is fully digital and can be carried out via an ID scanning app on Android smartphones. However, it has been recognised that there will be a demand for an ‘in-person’ or ‘over the counter’ service for ID verification. The Home Office has made arrangements for Local Authorities to offer this service. Currently, only Bridgend and Caerphilly provide this service in Wales.
It is estimated that at least 2,000 European Union citizens reside within Ceredigion. At the end of August 2019, only 300 Ceredigion residents had successfully applied for settled status, which represents around 15% of those that need to register.
Councillor Ray Quant is the Cabinet member for Customer Contact, Legal And Governance. He said: “Ceredigion has a relatively high proportion of the population who were born in the EU - 4%, making it the fourth highest-ranked county in Wales. Out of this figure, there will be a number of our residents who will struggle to complete the verification process by themselves for a number of different reasons.
“This can be an extremely stressful experience for those affected, as if they fail to register or fail to be accepted, it would have a life-changing effect on their lives, that of their families and on their relationships built up within the community. They could lose their rights to several services, including health and state benefits. Their ability to work would also be compromised as well as concern and insecurity whenever they travelled beyond the UK Boundaries.
“So, I’m extremely glad that we, as a Local Authority, can offer help and assistance to our European Union residents who make a vibrant and significant contribution to our community and economy.”
To book an appointment, or for more information on the identification verification process service in Ceredigion, telephone 01970 633580. A fee of £14 per transaction will be required. In line with other authorities who deliver this service, Ceredigion County Council Staff are exempt from the fee.
More information on the scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families