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London’s EU citizens face an ‘advice crisis’

06 September 2017

LONDON ASSEMBLY BREXIT DIRECTIVE I – EU Citizens

There are one million EU nationals living in London [1] and while they would have preferred Brexit not to have happened, their key wish now is for a smooth transition and one which is
as administratively simple as possible.

The current network of agencies which offer advice – law centres, advice centres, CABs, etc. – are stretched and lack the specialist knowledge, particularly around immigration status.

The London Assembly EU Exit Working Group has heard concerning evidence of a rise in hate crime immediately after the referendum which has continued since and increasing discrimination against EU citizens in relation to accessing services.

In a letter to the Mayor, to feed into his discussions with David Davies, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the EU Exit Working Group recommends that:

  • The Secretary of State explores whether a more simplified system to establish the status of EU citizens following Brexit might be in the interests of both applicants themselves and the economy. There is a need to make the system accessible and clear.
  • David Davies is alerted to the risks of banks refusing credit applications (particularly mortgages) from EU citizens.
  • The Mayor devises a campaign to raise Londoners’ awareness of hate crime and how to report it.
  • The Mayor leads the way in combatting discrimination against EU citizens.

Len Duvall AM, Chair of the EU Exit Working Group said:

“The things we heard from EU Londoners during our open mic meeting were staggering. The current offer of advice and support for them was paltry and many of these citizens have lived here for years, working in both the private and public sector. 

Some EU citizens experienced difficulties in accessing private rented housing, banking and employment. Some landlords, banks and employers have become nervous about the longer terms status of applicants from the EU, and no longer considered them a safe bet. This is the kind of discrimination that stems from confusion – I’m sure it’s not deliberate or malicious – but it needs to stop.

The ongoing uncertainty about their status, has also contributed to mental health issues among a number of EU citizens.

We’re pushing the Mayor to ensure that David Davies is aware of what’s going on in London and we expect him to press Government for a good deal for London and its EU citizens. The Mayor and London boroughs must lead the way in making EU citizens feel welcome.”

Notes to editors

  1. ONS, Population of the UK by Country of Birth and Nationality: 2015
  2. Letter to the Mayor attached
  3. London Assembly work on the impact of Brexit to date
  4. Watch the webcast of the meeting
  5. Len Duvall AM, Chair of the EU Exit Working Group, is available for interview – see contact details below.
  6. EU Exit Working Group
  7. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer.  Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.

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