EDINBURGH City Council has agreed to foot the bill for EU nationals who face paying for settled status registration processes amid an angry exchange at the City Chambers.
The UK government announced that settled status applications for EU nationals will no longer carry a fee after March 30 – with those applying before then will have to pay and be refunded. But application appointments with the council’s registration services carry a charge, which will now be paid by the authority.
Councillors agreed to help support the estimated 39,000 non-UK EU nationals living in Edinburgh, to the tune of £25,000, to “avoid any administration fees being applied to any EU nationals registering with the Home Office settlement scheme”.
The funding required will be monitored every month and payments will be limited to citizens who live in Edinburgh, subject to service demands.
Council leader Adam McVey, said: “The way that the Home Office has set up the registration scheme has been uncomfortable for many of our EU nationals in this city. The fact people have to register, the fact the fee will now not apply after April 1 – but it is still applying right now to citizens who are applying to registration of that system.
“We fundamentally disagree with the request for people who have lived in this city for years, for decades, to have to register. While the Home Office has implemented a hugely regressive and harmful policy, we have to do everything that we can to support our residents best through that. We will stand with them through every step of the way, regardless of how the UK government acts.”
But Conservative councillors called for “no action” on Cllr McVey’s motion to full council, which resulted in cries of “shameful” from SNP and Labour benches.
Tory group leader, Cllr Iain Whyte, shouted: “It is not shameful and I’m not having that. This is all about political othering in this chamber and I’m not having that.
“It is perfectly reasonable that people register to protect their rights. I am very pleased that the UK government has decided not to charge people.
“This is a matter of helping people protect their rights.”