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141k EU citizens living in UK may have to return post-Brexit benefits due to error

Around 141,000 European Union nationals who choose to remain in the United Kingdom after Brexit may be required to repay the UK government a substantial sum of money that they got from the authorities owing to an error.

The Independent Monitoring Authority for Citizens' Rights Agreements (IMA), a government-funded non-departmental public agency that acts independently, has made the matter public.

The UK Home Office notified the Authority of the error on January 18, 2023, and clarified that those affected were EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) applicants who were refused their status between June 27, 2021 and April 19, 2022, but their account continued to show a Certificate of Application, rather than the refused status.

“Ongoing access to a Certificate of Application meant that individuals’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement were protected pending final determination of any administrative review or appeal, but also means that, after exhausting their appeal rights, potentially 141,000 people continued to enjoy rights to which they were not entitled, including receiving benefit payments,” the IMA has pointed out in a press release on the issue.

The Authority goes on to say that EU individuals who were awarded pre-settled or settled status between these periods are unaffected, but those who profited incorrectly as a result of the error may have to repay the money they received, however the Home Office will make a decision on this soon.

The latter had already changed the status of these 141,000 accounts from Certificate of Application to "refused".

The amount of money wrongfully paid has not been disclosed.

The EU Settlement Scheme is a scheme set up by UK authorities after the country opted to leave the EU for EU citizens who wanted to stay after Brexit.

According to Home Office figures, as of September 30, 2022, a total of 6,874,700 applications for the EU Settlement Scheme had been filed, with 89% of those filed in England, 5% in Scotland, 2% in Wales, and 2% in Northern Ireland.

Among them are 1,355,870 Romanians, 1,171,400 Poles, and 606,260 Italians, who are also the top nationalities applying to stay in the UK under EUSS.

In terms of application outcomes, half were awarded settled status, 40% were granted pre-settled status, and the remaining 10% had various outcomes, which included 375,400 refused applications, 143,550 withdrawn or void applications, and 131,150 invalid applications.


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