To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effect of the requirement for people from Edinburgh to travel to Glasgow for biometric enrolment facilities on (a) disabled applicants, (b) applications for family visas and (c) people of limited means; and if he will make a statement.
Sopra Steria, undertook market research to identify initial service locations; their research included the impact on customer travel time, cost and accessibility. There are currently six core sites across the UK at which application submission services are offered free of charge and beyond that, SSL offer a range of enhanced services in a further 50 locations. These services enable customers to submit their biometric information (photo and fingerprints) and supporting evidence in one location. 62% of customers will, on average, have to travel less than 25 miles to visit a core service centre, with 78% travelling less than 50 miles. Appointments may be offered for individual customers and/or family groups to enrol their biometrics together.
SSL continue to assess customer demand, working closely with UKVI, and are planning to open a further 6 enhanced service locations throughout May and June, one of which will be offered in Edinburgh.
SSL are required to provide locations that comply with the Equality Act 2010 (including full compliance with the disability discrimination provisions) and biometric capture solutions are suitable for different customer groups, including customers with disabilities.
For customers who are eligible to apply using the Service and Support Centres (SSCs), it is estimated that 62% of customers will be within 30 miles of their nearest service centre and customers who meet certain criteria, which may include people of limited means; will be able to apply for travel assistance.