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Lib Dems get Surrey County Council to help Europeans stay post Brexit

February 4, 2019 9:47 AM

Will Forster Headshot

Amid increasing uncertainty surrounding Britain's place in the European Union (EU), Surrey County Council has agreed a request made by Surrey Lib Dems to help its EU staff and children in care apply for 'settled status' post-Brexit.

Earlier this year, the Government announced that EU nationals would have to apply and pay for settled status post-Brexit, though they have recently waived the application fees. This 'pay to stay' process has been widely criticised as being too complicated and making Europeans feel unwelcome in the UK.

Lib Dem County Councillor Will Forster recently addressed the Council's Cabinet to get them to commit to helping EU citizens that work for, or are in the care of, the local authority with their applications for settled status.

Lib Dem County Councillor for Woking South, Will Forster, said:

"I am delighted that Surrey County Council has agreed to my request to support EU nationals from some of the damaging effects of Brexit and will help its EU staff and children in care apply for settled status if Brexit takes place.

"10% of construction workers are from the EU, that's 84,000 people. Without Europeans we will not be able to build new homes or schools, or resurface roads. 18% of social care workers are from the EU; without European staff, the County Council will not be able to look after vulnerable elderly people. EU citizens make a huge positive contribution to this country, and our county.

"By requiring Europeans in the UK to apply for settled status, the Conservative Government are effectively saying to three million of our neighbours and colleagues that they are not wanted here. That's a dreadful message, but one I am pleased we are not saying in Surrey.

"However, the discussion over settled status is going on against a continued background of uncertainty for the country. It has just been announced that County Councils, such as Surrey, will receive £175,000 each to prepare for Brexit. But I personally believe this money is more needed elsewhere, to be spent on services such as social care and roads. That is why I will continue to lobby Surrey County Council to back a people's vote, so that we can gauge if the public are really behind the chaos we are currently hurtling towards."