Publishing the report, David Neal said:
I welcome the publication of this report, which examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). This is the ICIBI’s third inspection of the EUSS, which focused on how the Home Office has responded to the issue of vulnerability and sought to encourage and accommodate applications from those who are vulnerable or hard-to-reach.
Over the course of the inspections on the EUSS the ICIBI has found that the scheme continues to operate as a quick and efficient means of securing the rights of EEA citizens, and their family members, in the UK. For those with vulnerabilities, the process is not always as straightforward, but the continued support provided by Grant Funded Organisations (GFOs) has helped increase outreach to vulnerable EU citizens in the UK.
This report highlights ways in which the Home Office could drive improvements through the progression of policy decisions, provision of refresher training for caseworkers, making better use of data on vulnerability and protected characteristics and greater outreach with third parties, such as local authorities and other government departments.
I made seven recommendations and I am pleased that the Home Office accepted five recommendations in full and partially accepted one. I am also encouraged that work has been completed on three of the recommendations. It is disappointing, however, that the Home Office did not accept my recommendation for the collection and utilisation of data on vulnerability and protected characteristics, particularly as they are exploring the collection of this data in certain immigration routes following recommendations in the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. I am hopeful that this review will also highlight the benefits of collecting this data and will in turn drive improvements in management information for the EUSS.
In common with the ePassport gates report, I am also particularly disappointed that, whilst this report was sent to the Home Secretary in July of last year, it has not been published until today – six months later. My predecessor highlighted how this delay challenged his independence and I am similarly concerned, and it is a matter that stakeholders raise with me frequently. In her Windrush Lessons Learned Review, at Recommendation 10, Wendy Williams recommends that the government should review the remit and role of the ICIBI, to include consideration of giving the ICIBI more powers with regard to publishing reports. I look forward to this review. In practical terms, the delay to the publication of this report means that decisions on the scope of our fourth inspection into EUSS has been delayed unnecessarily.
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration