Supporting residents and employees to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme – briefing

20 October 2020

The UK is set to leave the EU soon, meaning that EU citizens living in the UK will need to apply for the new EU Settlement Scheme.

This briefing sets out changes affecting EU citizens living in the UK and how housing associations can support staff and residents to apply to the scheme. The NHF has worked with immigration advice charity Settled to produce this guidance for housing association members.

The guidance recommends that housing associations do the following:

  • Raise awareness of the scheme among staff and tenants and where possible, and identify EU citizens and third country national family members eligible to apply.
  • Encourage eligible people to apply as soon as possible and not close to the deadline because they might need additional time to renew expired ID documents and/or gather further evidence.
  • Provide applicants with evidence of their residence such as a letter confirming the length of their tenancy.
  • Refer and signpost eligible people who need support with their applications to organisations funded by the Home Office (listed at the end of this report).
  • Remind applicants with pre-settled status they need to apply for settled status once they reach their five years of continuous residence in the UK or before their pre-settled status expires.
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We talk to Corine Meier, Tenancy Sustainment Advisor at Gloucester City Homes and volunteer at Settled – an immigration advice charity – about the EU settlement scheme and what it means for housing associations, staff and residents.

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Ideas on how to communicate the scheme to residents

Just as the number of EU citizens and their family members in the UK is not known, so the number of EU tenants and their family members in social housing is also unclear. Many social landlords find that the data relating to their tenants’ and family members’ nationalities is not accurate, up-to-date or even recorded.

To reach out to their EU tenants, housing associations can start by reviewing the data held in their databases or CRM systems. The list of tenants with an EU nationality or who require information in an EU language can be used for calls by front-line staff. Accounts of affected tenants can be flagged so the question is asked when they next contact the housing association.

Front-line staff such as income, tenancy officers, wardens, support workers and customer services officers can be trained to signpost. They will also be able to use the knowledge of their patch to flag families in need.

Linking up with partner organisations such as food banks, homeless shelters, community centres, job centres, domestic abuse refuges, addiction organisations, schools and churches will help spread the word.

Tenants helped can be asked to promote the scheme through their networks, including via social media or the local shops they use.

Local authorities offer the biggest reach through their children, adult social care, homelessness, housing and benefits services. A few have started promoting the scheme to all their residents.

Home Office information can be relayed through social media, on rent statements and telephone recording systems, alongside posters and flyers in sheltered schemes, supported housing schemes and blocks of flats.

It is likely though that some EU tenants will not have made an application on time. For this reason, housing associations should be ready to identify accounts in arrears come 1 July 2021 as a late application for good cause could be made provided it is submitted within a reasonable time period.

Useful resources


Who to speak to

Sue Ramsden, Policy Leader