The facts behind the Settled Status Statistics 

EU Settlement Scheme statistics up to March 2020, published by the Government on 16th April 2020

 

Over 3 million people have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, that is surely good news?

 

Except this often-repeated claim isn’t true. The government stats count applications, rather than applicants. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands have submitted repeat applications already. And well over a million people who were only granted pre-settled status will sooner or later apply again for settled status. This renders the number of applications meaningless.

 

Okay, but over 3 million applications is still good news…?

 

It is, but the real question is how many people have not applied, and the government simply doesn’t know the answer to this. Every single eligible person to miss the deadline of 30 June 2021, for whatever reason, may automatically lose their legal status in the UK. With such a hard deadline, it is crucial we know how many, who, and where they are – but we have no data that would allow us to establish this.

 

Can’t we just subtract the number of applications from the number of EU citizens in the UK?

 

No. Remember our first point – the number of applications is not the same as the number of applicants. But even if we knew the number of citizens who had applied, the Migration Observatory’s report makes clear that it is currently impossible to estimate the number of EU citizens* in the UK with sufficient precision. Some groups, like those not living at private addresses, aren’t captured in surveys used to estimate the EU population. Other groups, like recently arrived citizens or dual EU / non-EU citizens, are likely to be undercounted too. On the other hand, some of those already granted status under the EU settlement scheme will have emigrated by 30 June 2021.

 

Do we know, at least, if people are getting the right status?

 

No - data are not good enough to estimate this with sufficient precision. The majority of applicants are granted the status they are eligible for, but a substantial number might be granted the wrong status without it being visible in the data.

 

What can be done about this?

 

Two things.

 

Firstly, we need better data both about applicants to the settlement scheme, starting with establishing how many have actually applied, how many have been granted status, how many have reapplied, and with what outcome. Other basic characteristics such as gender or waiting times should also be disclosed. We also need better data about the eligible population of EU citizens and their non-EU family members. The Migration Observatory’s report suggests possible improvements – but this may still be insufficient to establish reliably how many have not applied by the deadline.

Secondly, for all the reasons above, the government should introduce a legal safety net, and work with the immigration sector to identify and sufficiently resource a mechanism ensuring that every EU citizen secures the rights they were promised.

* We use an inclusive definition of “EU citizens” unless specifically stated otherwise. It covers all EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as their non-EEA or Swiss family members and derivative right holders.

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