Councils to Register EU citizens, not Home Office - Letter to the Observer
From Wiktor Moszczynski, Convenor of "A Fair Deal for Poles in UK"
48 Inglis Road, London W5 3RW, tel 07786471833
In answer to your front page report "Chaos looms for EU citizens" (19/02/2017) the 3 million EU citizens in this country are concerned not only whether their right to stay will eventually be guaranteed but also how it would be administered once the guarantee has been given. Amber Rudd in her reply to Hilary Benn had already implied that new IDs need to be issued and new proposed regulations for access to the NHS probably makes this inevitable.
It is apparent that local authorities are already in the best position to arrange the registration and to issue appropriate IDs to their local EU residents as they are already responsible for local registers of births, deaths and marriages, the electoral roll and social service and school records. They can draw on the additional resources of the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions where necessary, but they already have experience in issuing bus passes, blue badges and similar documents. Also, they have a less officious and more inclusive work ethic in comparison with, say, the Home Office, which tends to seek to exclude and has been responsible for a large number of much publicized blunders recently in relation to EU citizens.
It is recognized that currently councils are under enormous budgeting pressures as their central government grants are reduced and they may be reluctant to take on new tasks but the administrative cost of registering EU citizens could be covered from a central fund, ring-fenced entirely for this purpose, in the hands of the Treasury. Let us remember that this will be but a one off exercise lasting at most two or three years. It remains vital to perform this task quickly and efficiently as Poles and other EU citizens have come here in good faith covered by the UK’s adherence to EU rules and they have contributed considerably to the UK economy and to the social and cultural fabric of this nation. There are for instance 187,000 Polish children here who saw themselves as UK citizens and they should be saved from the trauma of being sent to Poland or another EU country because their parents feel concerned about their future.in post-Brexit UK.
26th February 2017