The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Health and social care welcomes post-Brexit proposals

Think tank says all EU nationals living in the UK post Brexit should be allowed to stay

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A coalition of health and social care organisations has welcomed a report* which says that all 2.8 million EU nationals living in the UK should be eligible for permanent residence with the same health, social and education rights as British citizens after Brexit.

The Cavendish Coalition, which is chaired by NHS Employers’ chief executive Danny Mortimer, said the report by British Future, which was written by a panel including cross-bench MPs, said that "quickly confirming the right to remain for EU nationals currently working in social care and health across the UK removes the uncertainty and anxiety for individuals and their families and mitigates the risk of staff leaving".

Mr Mortimer said that after consulting a wide array of organisations including the Cavendish Coalition, British Future has "put forward a set of recommendations which would provide this certainty - we urge the Government to take these fair and reasonable proposals very seriously".

The Cavendish Coalition's aim is to work together to ensure a continued domestic and international pipeline of high calibre health and social care professionals.

The report says that EU nationals already living in the UK at the point when Article 50 is triggered should be guaranteed the right to settle here permanently and calls on the Government to make a clear public commitment that the 2.8 million Europeans in the UK can stay, and should be offered Permanent Residence with the same health, social and educational rights as British citizens.

After Article 50 is triggered, EU citizens could still move to the UK under free movement rules until we leave the EU – but their post-Brexit status would be dependent on whatever future arrangements the UK negotiates with the EU.

The Inquiry panel, which included voices from Leave and Remain, different political parties and business and trade unions, was asked to examine how the Government can protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit and to make practical recommendations as to how to do this, starting from the premise that this is the right thing to do.

The Inquiry’s report also recommends major changes to the application process for Permanent Residence which, it says, is onerous for the applicant and risks overwhelming the Home Office with one of the biggest single administrative tasks it has ever undertaken. At the 2015 rate of processing, it would take 150 years to process the applications of all EU nationals currently in the UK, the report estimates.

For the two-thirds of EU nationals (up to 2 million people) who have already been in the UK for five years, the Inquiry proposes a streamlined system using Local Authorities’ Nationality Checking Services, who already help people with the paperwork for citizenship applications.

It suggests checking these applications more efficiently using existing Government records held by HMRC, the DWP and the Ministry of Justice. The remaining cases would be processed by a dedicated team at the Home Office.

The Inquiry also recommends that the costs of applying for Permanent Residence is capped so those affected can secure status with minimum of expense.

British Future brought people together for this Inquiry because it was clear they would be able to find common ground, despite being on different sides in the EU referendum and on opposing benches of the House of Commons. There is wide political and public agreement that the status and rights of EU nationals who have made their homes in Britain should be sorted out as soon as possible. ICM research for British Future finds that 84% of the British public supports letting EU migrants stay – including three-quarters (77%) of Leave voters – with any future changes to freedom of movement applying only to new migrants.

TUC Head of EU and International Relations Owen Tudor said: “EU nationals working in the UK and making a contribution are anxious about what happens to them when Britain leaves the EU. They need to know about their future rights to live and work here. Everyone agrees this needs to be resolved quickly and fairly. Our inquiry now has practical recommendations for how to do it. This shouldn’t be a matter for negotiation. The Prime Minister should make the first move to unblock this ghastly uncertainty. It is morally right and pragmatically sensible.”

* Report of the Inquiry into securing the status of EEA+ nationals in the UK. British Future, December 2016

Picture: London, September 2016 Demonstrators at March for Europe walking. Credit: Gina Power / Shutterstock.com

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470