By KLTV Newsdesk
An additional £146,000 in funding will support an estimated 13,000 European Union citizens living in Kirklees to apply for settled status – Kirklees Council has announced.
The council and Kirklees Citizens Advice and Law Centre (KCALC) have been awarded this funding by the Home Office to provide support for EU citizens living in Kirklees.
Launched by the Home Office in 2019, the European Union Settlement Scheme is for anyone that moved to the UK under EU law.
Citizens from the EU, the European Economic Area, Switzerland, or their close family members and dependents, must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to protect their current rights in the UK after Brexit.
Those who do not apply by the deadline of 30th June 2021 will lose access to current benefits such as the NHS or pensions.
The scheme for which the funding will be put towards is free to apply for, as are all advice and services provided by KCALC under this project.
Although the process is straightforward for most applicants, the online application form and documentation of residency required can present barriers for many others.
Councillor Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Corporate Strategy and Asset Strategy said: “We are currently working closely in communities to spread the word about the EU Settlement Scheme and empower organisations and individuals to signpost people to relevant support.
“The new funding and partnership with KCALC will allow us to work more closely with at-risk residents and offer them the time and support they need.
If you work closely with EU citizens or you are an employer, talk to your friends and colleagues about the scheme and the support that’s on offer.
“We welcome everyone that has decided to call Kirklees home, and want to get everyone settled so they can continue to add value to our community.”
The council says that their partnership with KCALC provides a more direct route for applicants that need support, and the new funding will enable them to work broadly across the community, reaching vulnerable groups including the elderly, and hard-to-reach individuals such as residents with low levels of English.
Nick Whittingham, Chief executive at Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre said: “At the last count, 9,930 applications had been made in the Kirklees area. This new funding allows us to focus more closely on complicated cases, whilst also offering a comprehensive service to all others who need to apply to the EUSS.
My message to EU citizens would be don’t wait to apply; although the deadline is June next year, you may lose access to the NHS and means-tested benefits before the deadline.
“All of our services are free so if you need support with your application, don’t hesitate to get in touch.”