Rafael Behr’s article (EU citizens made Britain their home – now they face a hostile environment, 18 May) may mislead readers and discourage eligible EU citizens from applying to the EU settlement scheme. I’m delighted that since the EUSS launched in March 2019, more than 5.4m applications have been received. This demonstrates how the government has made the system as straightforward and user-friendly as possible.
It also reflects our investment to raise awareness and support people. We have made £22m available to help vulnerable applicants, spent nearly £8m on public awareness campaigns and have dedicated staff at the EU settlement resolution centre providing support seven days a week.
As the scheme nears the 30 June deadline, it is right that we do everything possible to encourage those who may need to apply to do so. We want to ensure all who are eligible secure the status they deserve under the EUSS.
This includes working with the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC to identify, and issue letters to, people who may not have applied. We made it clear in these letters that no action should be taken if a person has already applied or already has UK citizenship. Anyone who applies by the deadline will have their existing rights protected, pending the outcome of their application.
I would encourage anyone who still needs to make their application to do so now, with support available online, on the phone and through our network of grant-funded organisations.
Minister for future borders and immigration
I am among the recipients of the Home Office letter (Home Office sends letters warning of immigration status to UK citizens, 17 May) urging people to apply for the EU settlement scheme, which in a Kafkaesque manner changed my identity, stating “you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss National”. I am neither, but a proud British citizen with no other passport. My naturalisation in 1998 was a milestone that finally gave me a sense of belonging after years of being a citizen of nowhere. It shocks when the government redefines one’s identity and there is no way to clarify it. I’ve lived in the UK through my professional life, worked hard, proudly paid my taxes, contributed to charity, and never used any state benefits. The letter appears to be a post-Windrush blunder. Such systemic failures reflect the disdain for immigrants and ex-immigrants in the present-day UK, which is at the root of a hostile environment.
Dr Jolanta Opacka