Tory MPs join bid to give EU children in care automatic settled status

EU citizens in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, lobbying MPs over post-Brexit rights in the UK

EU citizens in Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster, lobbying MPs over post-Brexit rights in the UK. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Two senior Conservative MPs are trying to force Boris Johnson to automatically grant EU children in care settled status in the UK when freedom of movement is ended.

Former minister Tim Loughton is leading a cross-party effort to 'avoid the risk of another Windrush scandal' with an amendment to legislation this week, alongside former cabinet member Andrew Mitchell.

Their efforts are supported by senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper, with the cross-party bid seeking to give the children automatic and indefinite leave to remain under the EU settlement scheme.

Their amendment would also grant the same right to adults who have previously spent time in care and are also from the European Economic Area or Switzerland.

If Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle selects the amendment to the Social Security Co-ordination Bill, it could be debated when the legislation returns on Tuesday.

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The MPs fear the vulnerable nationals may slip through the cracks and become undocumented if their post-Brexit settled status applications are not completed by social workers or guardians by the June 2021 deadline.

Research from the Children's Society charity, which is backing the amendment, suggested in January that only 11% of the estimated 9,000 looked after children and care leavers in the UK who need applications have been granted the status.

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Former children's minister Loughton said the amendment would help protect those 'who have had the hardest start in life'.

'It would solve the problem of overstretched social workers struggling to locate documents for these children and would also remove the substantial risk that many of these children end up without the right to remain in the UK next June,' he added.

'It would also avoid the risk of another Windrush scandal emerging when these children in care reach adulthood only to find that the necessary applications were not made for them as children for whatever reason, and they have no status to remain in the country.'

The Children's Society chief executive Mark Russell added: 'We know children in care are likely to have already faced numerous hardships and challenges, so when making decisions that will further affect their futures ministers must do the right thing and ensure they have the best chance in life, this includes giving them the legal right to stay in the country they call home.'

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