EU citizens in the UK may have received post-Brexit benefits in error

Pro-Brexit campaigners outside parliament, March 2019
Pro-Brexit campaigners outside parliament, March 2019 Copyright PAUL FAITH/AFP or licensors
By Euronews
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Some EU citizens living in the UK may have to repay state benefits after it was revealed a government error showed 141,000 people refused the right to remain had still been able to collect handouts.

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It is being claimed as many as 141,000 EU citizens living in the UK may have received handouts they were not entitled to due to an error made by British civil servants.

Now, a separate government-funded, but independent, body responsible for looking after EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit, has warned millions of pounds in benefits may have to be repaid.

The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), has warned the Home Office, the department that made the original error, that it is concerned about the impact the revelation could have on thousands of people. It is also concerned the digital system used to assess applications may not be sufficiently robust. 

The IMA said: "The IMA is concerned that this situation arose and the impact it could have on those affected. It has therefore written to the Home Office to seek clarity on what steps have already been taken to remedy it and what further steps will be taken.

"We are seeking assurance that the EUSS digital system is fit for purpose, maintained and audited to reflect accurate digital statuses, and accurately available on demand for all eligible citizens."

The error affects people who applied for EU settled status, but were not granted it, and covers an application period from June 2021 to April 2022. The IMA says 141,000 people were refused during that period.

A Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian newspaper the situation was being investigated but the department did not reveal how much money had been paid out to those who weren’t entitled.

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