Monday, 12 August 2019 12:59

SNP SLAM TORY PROFITEERING OFF CHILDREN WITH RIGHT TO CITIZENSHIP

The SNP has again slammed the Tories for profiteering from exorbitant citizenship fees that put the right to register as British beyond the financial means of thousands, particularly penalising children.

Today, The Times revealed that fees for British residency and citizenship delivered a £500 million surplus for the Home Office last year, with profits having risen by 91% over the past five years. This is despite Tory Ministers having previously denied the Home Office makes any profit from immigration or citizenship fees.

The high citizenship fees have a particular impact on children of migrant parents who were born in the UK or came as young children and life in the UK is all they have ever known. These children must pay £1012 to become a British citizen – a fee that has risen by 51% since 2014 and brings the Home Office £640 profit for each application.

There are estimated to be over tens of thousands who were born in the UK who do not enjoy automatic citizenship but have the right to register for it if they can pay the fee. Many of them won’t understand this until they run into difficulties through such things as applying for university and accessing healthcare. If a child loses out on their right to citizenship then the right to work, to rent property and to access healthcare can be affected.

The Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens has said that having a profit-making element in the system is counter to the government’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The SNP led the first debate in the House of Commons on the subject, and tabled amendments to the Immigration Bill designed to deliver a change in approach.

Commenting, Stuart McDonald MP said:

“The UK government’s policy on citizenship fees is discriminatory to the core and risks penalising children who call the UK home.

“In particular, the increasingly exorbitant fee to register as British puts citizenship beyond the financial means of many and is counter to the government’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

“While most of us don’t have to think about meeting a fee to be a citizen - we’re born in a country and grow up as its citizens - this is sadly not the case for tens of thousands children in the UK despite them only ever knowing the UK as home.

“It is time this Tory government stopped profiteering off children who have the right to British citizenship and ensured that all children with the right to register as citizen can easily and affordably access it. If it does not, the impact will be severe for so many of our children in the UK.”

 

The cost to the government of processing an application is £372

Home Office makes 500m from immigration fees: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hostile-environments-home-office-makes-500m-from-immigration-fees-vgpbm2h6j

Stuart McDonald MP: Time to stop the profiteering off children who have the right to British citizenship: https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/home-affairs/human-rights/opinion/house-commons/97930/stuart-mcdonald-mp-time-stop

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