Examination of Witness

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Joe Owen:

It is very unrealistic that there will be 100%, although I may come to regret saying that. Considering that we do not entirely know how many EU citizens are in the UK and exactly where they are, trying to target them is a huge challenge. You have already heard from a number of people about the can’ts, the don’ts and the won’ts. There will be some who cannot get status, even if they want to, because they do not have the right information, they cannot access the internet or for other valid reasons. There will be the don’ts—children or elderly people, for example—who do not know that they need to apply. Then there are the won’ts, who are the people who say, “I completely disagree with this as a policy; I think it is ridiculous and I am not going to do it as a matter of principle.”

Those people will exist. The first two categories are likely to be filled with more vulnerable people, as previous people giving evidence have attested. There needs to be a recognition that designing for 100% is the wrong way to go. The right way to go is to make sure that there are sufficient safeguards and clarity in the system about what happens to people who do not have settled status at the end of the two years, possibly for very good reasons, and what will happen to those who we think do not have good reasons as to why they do not have settled status. Having clarity about what will happen to those people—they will inevitably exist—at the back end of the two years is really important.