New measures to help UK nationals living in the European Union (EU) complete residency applications before Brexit were given a cautious welcome by campaigners on Friday.
Grant funding of up to £3 million (€3.3 million) will be made available for voluntary organisations who will inform people about the need to register or apply for residency, as well as supporting them in completing their applications.
"The UK will be leaving the EU on October 31st and we want to help UK nationals living across the EU to be fully ready for Brexit, whatever the circumstances. This funding will ensure people get the support they need to apply to protect their residency rights and access to services," said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Over 1 million UK nationals are currently living in the EU and European Free Trade Association EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland).
The government said it wants to support those who may find it harder to complete all the paperwork for Brexit, focusing in particular on pensioners or disabled people, those living in remote areas or with mobility difficulties, and those needing assistance with language translation or interpretation.
Jane Golding, Co-Chair of British in Europe, gave Friday's announcement a cautious thumbs-up.
‘It’s welcome that the UK Government has recognised that 1.3 million British people on the continent – 60% of whom could not vote in the 2016 Referendum on their direct future - need and deserve practical support to regularise their residency status after Brexit," she told Euronews.
"We look forward to hearing more details in due course."
Read more about the concerns of UK citizens living on the continent:
On its guidance website, the UK government says its preference is to reach a deal, in which case "the agreement on citizens’ rights would protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK."
However, it warns citizens that "your rights and how you access services may change" if there's no deal.
It has produced online "Living In" guides with information about Brexit for British people specific to different EU and EFTA countries.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, an ardent Brexiteer, has maintained his stance that Britain will leave the EU on the October 31 deadline "with or without a deal".
But his decision to call a Queen’s speech on October 14 was met by widespread criticism and sparked protests, as it means a cut to the amount of parliamentary time the opposition has to force the prime minister to abandon a no-deal Brexit.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday labelled the move "a constitutional outrage". It came just days after he led meetings of opposition figures to discuss how to prevent Johnson from taking the UK out of the EU without a deal.