More than 140,000 EU citizens in the UK may have received benefits incorrectly | Brexit
It has emerged that more than 140,000 EU citizens living in the UK may have received benefits to which they were not entitled due to Home Office errors.
The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), the legal body responsible for protecting the rights of EU citizens after Brexit, has expressed concern about what is happening and the possible impact on those affected.
It said it became aware of the problem last week and has now sent a letter to the Department of the Interior to seek clarity on what steps have been taken to address it and what further steps will be taken.
Governments could demand multi-million pound refunds from EU citizens, or they could decide not to pursue people who were getting benefits wrong and no longer live in the EU.
The error came to light after the Home Office worked to update the UK Visa and Immigration Authority’s (UKVI) register of individuals who had been denied settled or pre-settlement status in the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) post-Brexit.
Certificates of application were provided to the records of those whose decisions were pending so that they could enjoy the rights guaranteed by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement while their cases were investigated. These rights include access to benefits.
The IMA said in an exercise it found that as many as 141,000 applications were not in a rejected status but continued to show application status certificates. This meant that they were denied the right to stay in the UK but still be entitled to benefits.
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that it only affects individuals who received a denial decision between June 27, 2021 and April 19, 2022. Added.
We are also seeking assurance that EUSS digital systems are fit for purpose, are maintained and audited to reflect an accurate digital status, and are available accurately when requested by all eligible citizens.
An Interior Ministry spokesperson said the online digital status of some EU payment scheme applicants whose status was denied has been updated.
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They didn’t say how much money they had paid by mistake.
We are working with governments, the EU and member states to understand the further impact and to manage the situation expeditiously and pragmatically, the spokesperson said.
According to the latest Home Office quarterly figures, 5.36 million adult EU citizens have settled or pre-settled, along with 1.15 million children and 171,000 over 65, bringing the total to 6.67 million.
375,000 applications were rejected, withdrawn or invalidated.
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