EU citizens waiting to have their applications to stay in the UK decided have been left vulnerable by a disorganised UK Government, the SNP has claimed.
Millions of people have applied under the EU Settlement scheme (EUSS) scheme to stay in the UK since the Brexit vote.
However the SNP say that Westminster systems are leaving people vulnerable, and there could be chaos as thousands of applications remain unprocessed following the deadline on Wednesday.
Patricia Gibson MP has raised concerns about those on Universal Credit who have yet to have their request to stay granted, after asking ministers how they would ensure they would not have payments stopped.
Ms Gibson asked the Home Office and DWP what measures they had in place to ensure people’s Universal Credit would remain in place.
Junior Home Office minister Kevin Foster replied: “There is a system-to-system service between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Home Office, which will in most cases confirm a pending application to the EUSS automatically.
“We continue to work closely with DWP to ensure anyone whose rights are protected by making an in-time application to the EUSS will continue to receive benefits. DWP have provided staff with guidance.”
However when the same question was asked to the DWP by Ms Gibson, its junior minister Justin Tomlinson his department “has not shared any guidance with the Home Office on the continued payment of Universal Credit to people awaiting a decision on their EU Settled Status Application or appealing a rejection of their EU Settled Status application.”
Ms Gibson said the responses showed the government were “clearly not working together”.
She said: “During the EU referendum, Boris Johnson made a commitment that EU citizens would automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and in 2019, he promised [they] would have absolute certainty for the right to live and remain.
“The Tory government has not only broken a key promise, they are not even prepared for the consequences, with key Whitehall departments clearly failing to work together to ensure hundreds of thousands EU nationals – who live here, have paid their taxes and contributed to society – are not stripped of vital benefits.”
A Home Office spokesman dismissed Ms Gibson’s concerns, saying: “The Home Office and DWP are working closely together to help ensure all those eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme apply and to suggest otherwise is completely false.
“That includes DWP contacting benefit claimants yet to apply to the EUSS to encourage them to do so, and there have already been more than 5 million grants of status. EU citizens who submitted a valid application by 30th June will have their rights protected in law whilst their application is decided.”