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Hackney and Brexit

The Government’s official source for a wide-range of information on Brexit is – Brexit. The GLA has set up an EU Londoner’s hub which has a list of Q and As and details of support organisations in Hackney.

Hackney and its European citizens

About 15% of Hackney residents – 41,500 people – are from other EU countries. Hackney had the third highest Remain vote in the UK, with 78.5% of residents voting to stay in the EU.

European citizens in Hackney make an enormous contribution to the civic, economic and cultural life of the borough. They are our friends, neighbours, colleagues and valued members of our communities.

They also a bring a huge benefit to our local economies through their skills, expertise, creativity, energy and innovation, and have been at the heart of Hackney’s fantastic business growth –  40% since 2010.

Many of our thriving local businesses in tech, creative, manufacturing, hospitality and other industries, have been founded or enriched by EU nationals who chose to make their home here. They are also vital to our local health and social care system.

In 2017, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville launched the #hackneylovesyou campaign to help show our EU citizens how much we value them.

On January 23 this year, the Council passed a motion calling on the Prime Minister to rule out a ‘no deal’ Brexit and extend Article 50 if necessary, to avoid the UK leaving the EU with ‘no deal’. It also supported the right of Parliament to stop a ‘no deal’ scenario to help ensure enough time is given for all options, including a public or ‘people’s vote’, with a clear option to remain in the EU on the table.

The rights of EU citizens from other member states

The UK Government and the European Commission have published a joint report agreeing on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after its withdrawal from the EU.

The agreement means that EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights to live, work or get benefits preserved so that they can carry on living as they do now.

Family members living lawfully with their EU citizen relatives are also protected.

In October 2018, we helped organise an event by the European Commission where EU citizens could access the latest information about their rights around Brexit, and ask questions of an independent immigration lawyer.

The session is available to view on the European Commission in the UK’s Facebook page.

Settled status

The Government’s settled status scheme is now live. Those who already have 5 years of continuous lawful residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for it. Others will be able to remain in the UK to build-up 5 years’ continuous residence provided they apply for pre-settled status.  The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

Except in a few cases, you need to apply if:

This means you need to apply even if you:

You may be able to apply if you’re not an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen but:

  • you used to have an EU, EEA or Swiss family member living in the UK (but you’ve separated, or they’ve died)
  • you’re the family member of a British citizen and you lived outside the UK in an EEA country together
  • you’re the family member of a British citizen who also has EU, EEA or Swiss citizenship and who lived in the UK as an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen before getting British citizenship
  • you’re the primary carer of a British, EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • you’re the child of an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who used to live and work in the UK, or the child’s primary carer

You don’t need to apply if you have:

Settled status provides the holder with the same rights and access to benefits, education and healthcare as those who have acquired permanent residence.

Children born or adopted after the UK leaves the EU to those covered by the agreement will be protected.

Future spouses and partners of EU citizens who want to come to the UK after the 29 March 2019 will need to meet the UK’s immigration rules.

The Council offers a walk-in service for people who want help to apply.

A range of other advice and support services available in Hackney are listed on the GLA’s EU Londoner’s hub.

The Government has now waived the fees for EU nationals to obtain settled status which were originally proposed to be levied.

Other advice and guidance

  • The GLA’s EU Londoner’s Hub contains a list of organisations in Hackney who can advise on a range of Brexit-related issues
  • Citizens Advice has information on Brexit and how it affects you. It also shows you how to contact your nearest Citizens Advice office if you think you’ve been discriminated against since the referendum (eg unfairly refused work / housing, or told your rights have changed)
  • the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association has a searchable directory (based on area) for where you can get immigration advice
  • New Europeans has produced 4 survival guides for EU citizens living in the UK. They include information on
    • citizenship rights post-Brexit
    • how to get involved in the community
    • how to get involved politically as an EU citizen

Advice for businesses

There are still many uncertainties about what the business and trade arrangements will be post-Brexit and the implications for Hackney.

We have called for clarity and reassurance from government on this, and urged against a ‘hard’ Brexit, and regularly sign-post local businesses to sources for advice and support through our Hackney Business Network and various events and forums.

Once more detail is confirmed about business and trade arrangements, we’re planning to hold information and support sessions for local businesses.

The Government has created an employer’s toolkit with advice and information to support EU citizens and their families to apply to the EU settlement scheme.

Several national business groups have information about the potential impact on businesses, what support is out there and proposals for how Brexit should be approached from a business perspective.

Impact on Hackney

Much of the impact on the borough, both short-term and long-term, is unknown, and will be until the final arrangements of leaving the EU have been agreed.

However, we published a report last year understanding the population implications of Brexit for the London Borough of Hackney, which summarised the potential impact for Hackney’s population, explored the effect on key employment sectors and suggested the potential longer term implications of leaving the EU.

Brexit implications are currently being reviewed and we will publish further assessments of impact in due course.

We are currently considering, along with health providers and other local and national partners, what the impact on services and service demand could be, so we can ensure continuity of support to residents and businesses regardless of what the outcome of Brexit negotiations are and the future relationship with the EU.

What the Council is doing

For many months the Council, along with other London boroughs, partner organisations, the Government and various providers, have been exploring what the impact on services and service demand could be, so we can ensure continuity of support to residents and businesses regardless of what the outcome of Brexit negotiations are and the future relationship with the EU.

We’re part of the London Resilience Group which meets regularly to consider the latest data, and officers have discussed potential impacts with representatives from partner organisations and other local authorities.

Alongside this we have been regularly signposting residents and businesses to various sources of advice and support (referenced above).

Our staff

An internal online group has been set up which allows staff to raise concerns and discuss the latest guidance and information on issues around Brexit.

An event has also been organised for staff who are who are EU citizens from other member states, who regularly work with or support EU Citizens, or have family members who are EU citizens. It’s being facilitated by the independent immigration lawyer used for the European Commission event for residents held in October 2018, and will help explain their rights, and offer support and guidance on specific circumstances.

The Council had agreed to pay the £65 fee for council staff applying for European Settled Status, but this fee was subsequently been scrapped by the government.

Support for vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ groups

Alongside the general communications to residents and businesses referenced above, the Council has been working with partners in the voluntary and community sector (VCS), including Hackney Migrant Centre, to look at how together we can ensure that every European citizen in the borough knows about and applies for European settled status.

As a result of previous engagement work we are able to predict which groups of our EU citizens may be more vulnerable and need additional support. The Council also held a workshop in January with representatives from the VCS, focusing on those organisations who have contact with vulnerable migrants.

We are now mapping the local sector’s capacity to provide advice and have a better understanding of the support offered by VCS groups; make organisations aware of the funding that is available from the Home Office to support people with the application process; test our understanding of the groups vulnerable to not applying for ESS and the barriers to applying.

Other information

The London Assembly has lots of information about Brexit, including: impact assessments, the work of its committees and the views of the Mayor of London.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, has a Brexit section on its website which explains what reassurances and commitments local government wants.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which promotes the voluntary sector and volunteering, has a Brexit section on its website which explores the issues for its sector.

Page updated on: 11 December 2019