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Islington Council pledges to pay ‘settled status’ fees for all its EU employees

PUBLISHED: 10:35 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 18:07 10 January 2019

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council.  Photo by Em Fitzgerald

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council. Photo by Em Fitzgerald

Em Fitzgerald

Islington has became “the first council in the country” to pledge it will reimburse all its EU national workers who successfully register their right to remain in the UK after Brexit.

Council leader Richard Watts announced an £80,000 kitty to pay back employees who achieve “settled status”, enabling them to continue living and working in the UK beyond Brexit.

It costs EU citizens £65 per person to register for settled status with the Home Office and Islington estimates there are 1,250 people in its direct employment eligible to apply.

They include staff on temporary contracts lasting longer than 12 months, but not contractors.

Islington’s finance boss Cllr Andy Hull yesterday told the Gazette: “We think we are the first council in the country to announce this.”

“EU staff are critical to Islington Council,” added Islington’s leader Cllr Richard Watts.

“They are fundamental in delivering that thousands of residents rely on – we can’t do without them and it’s important to show that.”

The leader of Islington Council added: “We think the government was incredibly bad to use them as negotiating pawns. [...]

“This is what we can do to send the message they are valued.”

He added that it will “probably” also save Islington money in the long-term because an exodus of EU staff would mean recruiting swaths of new employees.

Such a scenario could also see the council turn to more costly agency staff to fill the short-term void.

The commitment was put forward in Isilngton’s budget proposals for the next three years, published this week.

To become official council policy, the plan must be approved at a meeting of the executive next Friday before being debated at full council, where the Labour group holds 47 out of 48 seats, on February 28.

The UK government this week announced the EU nationals among its 430,000 civil servants must pay their own fees.

The Scottish government, however, has promised to pay the settlement fees for all its public sector workers.

The EU Settlement scheme will open fully by March 30 and the deadline for applying is June 30, 2021.

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