The Liberal Democrats are calling for all EU citizens in the UK to be given the automatic right to stay, as new figures reveal that 3,580 living in Surrey are still waiting for the Home Office to process their applications - with just five weeks to go before the Government's deadline.
The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics show that, as of the end of March, there have been 80,8880 applications from people living in Surrey, with 77,300 of these having been concluded.
The party is warning that those who aren't given 'Settled Status' by the 30th June could become the victims of "a new Windrush-style scandal".
The figures also reveal that 30,000 people in Surrey have only been granted temporary 'Pre-Settled Status'. That means a total of 33,580 applicants have still not been given the permanent right to stay.
Responding to the figures, Will Forster, leader of the Surrey Liberal Democrats' group in Surrey said:
"3,580 of our European friends and neighbours in Surrey still don't know what will happen to them at the end of June. They are being forced to cross their fingers and hope the Home Office get to their application in time.
"EU citizens who've made their lives in Surrey contribute enormously to our economy, our public services and our society. They shouldn't be forced to live with this uncertainty and anxiety any longer."
"In March this year the Liberal Democrats submitted a motion asking Surrey County Council to lobby the government to "to grant EU citizens living locally the automatic right to stay in the UK." It was unsuccessful but the Leader of the Surrey County Council did agree as a result to "write to the Home Office asking them to ensure Surrey residents' applications were dealt with expeditiously".
The motion was based on December 2020 figures showing 4,800 applications from Surrey residents were still not concluded. Three months later there were still 3,580 EU citizens waiting for a decision, so I think it fair to assume that there will still be some outstanding by the time the deadline comes round."
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added:
"Boris Johnson promised all EU citizens the automatic right to stay, but this backlog and the growing number of refusals show that the Settled Status scheme is anything but automatic.
"It's not too late, but the Government must act now to prevent a new Windrush-style scandal in just a few weeks."