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£1m campaign launched to tell EU citizens how to stay in UK after Brexit

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
UK border signage at London's Heathrow Airport in London. Photo Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The UK government on Friday announced that it had launched a £1m campaign to encourage EU citizens to apply to a scheme that could allow them to stay in the country after Brexit.

The £1m comes on top of the £3.75m spent on the March 2019 launch of the scheme, which has already had over two million applications.

As part of the campaign, outdoor advertising will be placed in around 2,400 locations around the UK. This will be followed up by “eye-catching” adverts on catch-up TV platforms, radio, and social media, the government said on Friday.

There “is always more to do to raise awareness,” said Brandon Lewis, a junior minister responsible for Brexit and no-deal preparation.

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“That’s why I’ve launched this nationwide campaign which will reach people up and down the country through billboards, radio and social media so that EU citizens know how to apply and can get the status they need.”

There are more than three million EU citizens living in the UK, meaning that around a third have yet to apply for the settlement scheme.

And while migration to the UK from European countries has slowed, figures suggest that there are still more EU citizens moving to the country than are leaving.

“Settled” status is given to EU citizens who have been living in the UK for five years before making an application under the scheme.

Settled status entitles EU citizens to stay in the UK indefinitely, and also allows them to apply for UK citizenship one year after the status is granted.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that there is confusion about the scheme.

Some 2,800 Irish citizens, who will retain their special rights after Brexit and do not need to apply to the scheme, have submitted applications.

The Home Office said it would hold a series of “innovative” pop-up events to raise awareness of the scheme at a local level. It has also released a beta version of an app for iOS devices that allows people to check their status.

“There is a wide range of support available for EU citizens and their families to help them apply,” the Home Office said.

“For example, the government has awarded up to £9m to 57 voluntary and community sector organisations across the UK who are helping vulnerable people such as the homeless, disabled and elderly.”

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