New rules will create ‘second class’ of EU citizens, MP warns

New rules will create a “second class” of EU citizens, an MP has warned.

Some EU nationals will have to abide by different and more complicated rules than others to access universal credit, child benefit or tax credits from May 7.

EU citizens who have not been in the UK for the five years necessary to obtain settled status, labelled “pre-settled status”, will need to meet different criteria from those with settled status.

Stuart McDonald
Stuart McDonald

SNP immigration spokesman Stuart McDonald MP said the “outrageous” change had been “snuck in” over the Easter break with “zero scrutiny” and consultation.

He said: “This disgraceful move by the UK Government – snuck in over the recess period and without debate – risks creating a cohort of second-class EU citizens living in the UK and must be halted.

“Creating a two-tier system for EU nationals applying for social security in the UK will disadvantage pre-settled EU nationals with families – potentially leaving them worse off by thousands of pounds and having to gather complicated evidence to prove their right to reside.

“Once again, the Tories will expect the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces while they wash their hands of responsibility and reneging on its promise to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK.”

Two statutory instruments about Brexit and social security were introduced by the Government when Parliament was in recess, so MPs were unable to raise objections.

The Social Security (Income-related Benefits) (Updating and Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 legislation was laid using the negative procedure, which requires no debate.

Key organisations, including the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) and the Local Authority Associations (LAA), were not consulted “due to the short timescale”.

The legislation states: “The Secretary of State has not referred proposals in respect of these regulations to the Social Security Advisory Committee… and has not undertaken consultation with organisations appearing to her to be representative of the authorities concerned, as it appears to her that by reason of the urgency of the matter it is inexpedient to do so.”

The rules mean pre-settled status EU nationals will need to prove they are “habitually resident” by providing detailed paperwork about work, family and residence.