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Local Authorities: Children of EU Nationals

Volume 657: debated on Monday 1 April 2019

14. What steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities settle the status of the children of EU nationals in their care. (910138)

The Home Office’s comprehensive vulnerability strategy ensures that the EU settlement scheme is accessible for all, including children in care. The Home Office is engaged with the Department for Education, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services to assess the needs of this group and ensure that they are met. I have welcomed their ongoing contribution to the development of the scheme.

The Home Office’s testing of the EU settlement scheme has highlighted real challenges for this group of vulnerable children. Across five authorities, only 16 children have secured settled status. Does she agree that, as corporate parents to these vulnerable children, we should be giving automatic settled status, and that those eligible for citizenship should have their fee waived to avoid any risk of them becoming undocumented and causing a second Windrush scandal?

As the hon. Lady knows, five local authorities took part in the private test phase, making applications on behalf of children for whom they had full parental responsibility. They reported that the process was quick and easy for them to use. As I have said previously, we have a comprehensive vulnerability strategy and are working hard to make sure that the scheme is accessible and handles all those who are marginalised or at risk with the sensitivity that is required.