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Scotland and Wales raise concern over future of EEA citizens

Sajid Javid outside the Home Office in Westminster, London, after he was appointed as the new Home Secretary. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 30, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Windrush. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

By Catriona Webster, Political Reporter, Press Association Scotland

The devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales have united to raise serious concerns about the status of European citizens after Brexit.

In a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, ministers called for an urgent meeting to discuss the impact of EU Exit Settlement Scheme for EEA (European Economic Area) citizens.

Scotland's External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford urged the UK Government to fully consult the devolved administrations on the rules around settled status before they are published.

The letter warned of "great uncertainty" in Scotland and Wales over the settled status scheme.

It said: "There are potentially significant numbers of people who are at risk of missing out on settled status simply due to being unable to, or unaware that they can and need to apply.

"This continuing lack of detail is not only a serious issue for our two governments, but is clearly of significant concern to EEA citizens, who are understandably anxious about what Brexit means for their future, and the future of their families."

The letter criticised a "severe lack of detail" about any communications, engagement or outreach strategy to support the scheme in meetings between officials, councils and the Home Office.

Given the devolved nature of local government, ministers warned it was "wholly unacceptable" for the Home Office to impose extra responsibilities on councils without consultation.

"As a new burden, our clear expectation is that the UK Government should fully fund the costs of any proposed additional responsibilities and there should be full consultation with us and our local government partners to establish and agree what those costs might be," the letter said.

"We are concerned about the lack of clarity around the expected role of local government with regards to the settled status scheme, both in terms of informing EEA citizens about the scheme, and in terms of supporting individuals through the application process."

It continued: "We understand the UK Government is planning to set out more details about the scheme before the summer, including draft immigration rules, and we would like to request early sight of these, as well as confirmation that devolved administrations will be fully and meaningfully consulted on the content in advance of publication.

"Given the lack of meaningful engagement with our governments to date, we hope these concerns and requests are taken seriously and are responded to with urgency."

Pic by Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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