EU Settlement Scheme ‘presents challenges for construction workers’
Many skilled construction workers may not have the language or technical skills to understand how to apply for settled status, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) has warned.
The Home Office has launched the public test phase of the EU settlement scheme, before its full launch on March 29.
EU nationals who have the following can now start to use the EU settlement scheme to secure their residence rights:
- an email address,
- a current EU passport,
- a debit or credit card, and
- an Android Phone with near-field communications (NFC) settings enabled - to scan EU passports.
The Home Office will grant ‘settled status’ to applicants who have lived for a continuous period of five years in the UK. EU citizens applying for the scheme who have lived in the UK for fewer than five years will receive ‘pre-settled status’, allowing them to apply for full settled status once they accumulate the full five years or residence at no extra cost.
The NFB has campaigned vigorously to provide certainty for the 164,000 EU nationals who work in the UK’s construction industry. Despite praising the government for taking steps to reassure EU nationals, the trade body’s concern is that many skilled construction workers may not have the language or technical skills to understand how to apply for settled status.
The NFB has urged the Home Office to maintain a flexible and open attitude to ensure that no one is left behind.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The government needs to make resources available such as translators to discuss applications with caseworkers on their behalf.
“An unintended consequence could be that we cannot build the 800 homes each day we need to meet demand – not because people do not have the right to work in the UK, but because they could not navigate the system.”
Monika Slowikowska, director of NFB member Golden Houses, said: “Many of my employees who would need to apply don’t even have an email address, let alone a smartphone with the right operating system and features. They are just not used to this level of digital technology in their lives and the government cannot give tech savvy applicants special treatment.
“Based on what I have read and understood, I know that 80% to 90% of my employees would not be able to complete the EU settlement scheme process and would need help. The government needs to do much better than this.”