I am delighted to have this opportunity to mark and update the House on the huge success of the EU settlement scheme. As of the end of last month, more than 5.6 million applications had been received by the scheme, with more than 5.2 million concluded. As these number demonstrate, the dire warnings about our willingness to deliver an effective scheme to safeguard the position of millions of our friends and neighbours have proven totally unfounded.
Today, I invite all hon. and right hon. Members to play their part in communicating tomorrow’s deadline and encouraging those who are eligible, but who have yet to apply, to do so now. The Government have mounted a massive public information campaign to raise awareness about the scheme, investing almost £8 million in communications encouraging eligible EU citizens and their family members to apply by the deadline. We have also made extensive support available to applicants who need it, including providing £22 million in grant funding to organisations that have so far helped more than 300,000 vulnerable people to apply for the status that they deserve.
While the deadline is tomorrow, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to considering late applications made after the deadline. Our priority will remain to encourage those eligible to secure their status, and the examples of reasonable grounds given in the guidance that we have published are non-exhaustive. Each case will be considered based on its unique circumstances.
To confirm: a person’s existing rights will continue to be legally protected pending the outcome of an application made by the deadline of tomorrow, plus any appeal process that may follow. In the meantime, they will be able to rely on their certificate of application as proof of their right to work or rent when that is verified by the Home Office employer and landlord checking services.
We also expect the EU to uphold its obligations on citizens’ rights. We are aware that some UK nationals in the EU have faced difficulties in securing and exercising their rights. We are engaging with the EU through the specialised committee on citizens’ rights to address this.
The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. We opened the EU settlement scheme in March 2019 on a basis much more generous than the withdrawal agreement requires. By contrast, most EU countries have an application window of around 12 months. Our position has remained clear throughout: EU citizens are our colleagues, neighbours, friends and family. We want them to stay and to get the status that they deserve under the EU settlement scheme. The fact that so many have already chosen to do so is something to celebrate, and I encourage anyone who is eligible, but yet to apply, to join the millions who have already secured their rights through our scheme, with support available online, on the phone and through our fantastic grant-funded organisations.