Letter to Lambeth Council Leader December 2020

7th December 2020

Jack Hopkins

Leader of the Council

London Borough of Lambeth

Lambeth Town Hall

Brixton Hill

London

SW2 1RW

 

 

Dear Councillor Hopkins,

I write to you about the immigration status of Lambeth’s many EU national residents and the impending deadlines for application for Settled Status. We are concerned that many of our friends and neighbours will be both worried and at risk of missing out on protecting their status and rights. They, like our Windrush Generation residents, have been an unambiguous boon to Lambeth and so we call upon Lambeth Council to redouble its efforts on this matter. 

We appreciate that the Council and its staff have been working hard on this matter, and that Covid has increased your workload and demands on your resources, however we consider it essential that more is done in order to avoid another Windrush-style scandal before the original Windrush scandal has been fixed. The government has made it clear that they intend to extend the hostile environment to EU/EEA nationals in the near future.

The Lambeth Liberal Democrats ask that you consider the actions outlined below:

  • A borough wide mailout to all residents outlining Settled Status and who needs to apply and when, with a link to the Home Office site,
  • Specialist EU settlement advisors at either the CAB or other advisory services,
  • Apply for all central government or London-wide projects or schemes that would help fund Lambeth’s efforts in assisting EU nationals.

The borough wide mass mailout has been done elsewhere in the UK by local authorities and whilst more expensive will let you reach everybody. Since many UK and EU nationals are not aware of this requirement, we hope this will spread awareness and increase applications. If the Council cannot afford a full all households mailout, then we suggest focusing on EU national households. This however would be very much a second best option.

Specialist EU settlement advisors are immigration consultants trained on the Settlement Scheme, sitting alongside ordinary immigration advisors. We note that our neighbours to the south west in Sutton, Richmond, Kingston, Merton and Wandsworth do provide either specialist EU advisors or further assistance of some kind. It appears that Lambeth is unusual in having no such dedicated provision. We note that Merton Borough, with whom Lambeth shares Citizens Advice, does provide this.

Funding for specialist Settled Status advice or support does appear to have been made by the Government, although too little and too late. We will be asking our Home Office spokesperson to challenge the government on this as well as writing to Lambeth’s three MPs to request they support efforts made by Lambeth Council.

Once again, we appreciate the hard work Lambeth Borough staff have done this year but we urge you to do all that you can to protect and support our EU citizens. I am sure all residents, community groups and political organisations would agree with us on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Austin

Officer

Lambeth Liberal Democrats

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