Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Councillor Pringle asked the following question in writing to the Leader of the Council:
Protection of EU citizens’ rights in Dacorum
In view of recent advice to the government, as outlined in House of Commons Library briefing paper No: 8772 (Annex 1 below) and the deadline for EU citizens to apply for settled status being just 18 months away (Annex 2 below), does the Leader agree that it is incumbent on all levels of government to take responsibility for assisting EU citizens who have built their lives in the UK?
Does the leader agree that DBC should be doing all we can to ensure those EU citizens resident in Dacorum can optimise their opportunities of successfully apply for settled status rights.
1. Will the Leader ensure that Dacorum Borough Council will take all reasonable and necessary steps to assist EU citizens resident here, particularly the vulnerable, with applications for settled status?
2. In particular, will he pledge to introduce the following measures:
1. Immediately provide easily accessible information and support to EU citizens on the DBC website. This would include a letter from the Leader to EU citizens outlining in plain language that EU citizens are welcome in Dacorum and the support that they can access in applying for settled status (such as the example set by the leader of Vale of White Horse District Council Annex 3) and links to government information.
3. Set up an urgent review of services to consider how DBC can further offer support to EU citizens in Dacorum in terms of:
1. Helping with process
2. Providing additional resources necessary, such as computer terminals in libraries for those who do not have the app
3. Fast tracking requests for evidence of residence in Dacorum to support Settled Status applications and training staff to proactively assist such applicants
4. Training staff to generally support and advise residents making such applications
5. Commit to providing the funding necessary to reach out to vulnerable groups, such as
1. providing grants to outreach groups and
2. ensuring all DBC staff who work with the elderly, the homeless and residents with other vulnerabilities are trained in proactively offering appropriate support and identifying and supporting those at risk of failing to apply for settled status
Extract 1 from Briefing Paper No:8772 House of Commons Library
Commons Library Briefing, 3 January 2020
“The Home Office is undertaking a range of outreach and communications activities targeted towards EUSS applicants. But it has been estimated that about 30% of EU citizens may struggle with the EUSS application process, whether due to a lack of awareness of the scheme or difficulties making an application or proving their eligibility. They are therefore particularly vulnerable to losing their status and entitlements in the UK. Groups identified include the elderly, people with limited English, children and young people in the care system, homeless people, people who arrive soon before the deadline and people in casual employment.8
Another major concern the 3 million have is that the government has rejected calls to issue physical proof of status documents to people who successfully apply to the EUSS. Instead, they receive a digital status”
Extract 2 from Briefing Paper No:8772 House of Commons Library
Commons Library Briefing, 3 January 2020
2.3 Deadline for applying to the EUSS
Clause 7 allows Ministers to make regulations specifying a deadline for applications to the EUSS. The WA states that the deadline cannot be less than six months after the end of the transition period (therefore, 30 June 2021, unless extended). The government has been criticised for not setting out in any detail its intended approach towards people who miss that deadline.
Sample letter from Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council
2. Councillor Freedman asked the following question in writing to the Leader of the Council:
The government wants to make it compulsory for voters in England, Scotland and Wales to show photo identification before casting their ballots. They say the legislation will “tackle electoral fraud and protect our democracy.”
Elections, including the December General election are carried out by the borough Councils Electoral services team. To quantify the problem that Boris Johnson seeks to solve, I would like more information about electoral fraud in our area.
In the December 2019 General Election in the Borough of Dacorum:
Qi. How many votes were disallowed because it was found the same voter registration had been used twice?
Qii. How many people were turned away from voting due to polling station staff being unconvinced the voter was not who they claimed to be?
A. None. Full training is provided to polling station staff before each election and handbooks are supplied so they have the necessary guidance and legislation. No Presiding Officers reported having to resort to these procedures.
Qiii. Of these, how many were turned away because they were unable to produce any ID, and how many because they produced inadequate ID?
A. Under the current legislation and Electoral Commission Guidance, electors at the polling station are not required to produce any form of Identification.
Qiv. How many people were turned away from voting due to presenting at a polling office outside of their allocated station?
A. This information is not recorded. Electors turning up at the wrong polling station would be directed to the correct polling station by the Presiding Officer.
Qv. How many postal votes were rejected due to multiple votes being received from the same voter?
Qvi. How many postal votes were rejected due to inability to verify the voters’ identity?
A. 197. These would include missing signatures, missing date of birth, mismatched signatures and mismatched date of birth.
Qvii. How many postal votes were rejected for any other reason?
A. 63. This would be for missing ballot papers or missing statements.
Qviii. How many votes were counted that have since been found to have been invalid votes?
A. None. The total number of ballot papers rejected at the count was 207.
Qix. How many invalid (as opposed to intentionally spoiled) votes, either postal or via a polling station were received?
A. All votes cast at the polling station would initially be deemed valid and then included in the count. Any incomplete postal votes would be considered invalid (not spoiled) and would not then have been forwarded to the count.
Qx. What was the total number of valid votes cast across the Borough?
Qxi. What was the total (%) voter turnout across the Borough?
Publication date: 28/01/2020
Date of decision: 22/01/2020
Decided at meeting: 22/01/2020 - Council