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Watchdog bans government’s radio ad for EU settlement scheme | Politics News

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An advert for the government’s EU Settlement Scheme has been banned by the advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the radio ad failed to make it clear to applicants that they would need further documentation in addition to a passport or ID card to apply.

But the Home Office spokesman said “we completely disagree” with the decision and the campaign was “factual and complied with all necessary clearance processes for radio advertising”.

File photo dated 11/1/2018 of signage for the Home Office in Westminster, London. EU citizens granted "settled status" to stay in the UK after Brexit should be given physical residency cards to prove their rights, not forced to rely on online checks, a parliamentary report has said.
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The Home Office said the ad campaign has had a ‘positive impact’

The scheme aims to help EU citizens and their families live and work in the UK once freedom of movement comes to an end as a result of Brexit.

Those applying are required to prove their identity, show they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions.

Around three million EU citizens live in the UK – and they have until at least December 2020 to make an application for settled status.

Figures released earlier this month show that of the 800,000 applications dealt with by 30 June, 65% were granted full status and 35% were granted pre-settled status.

The advert, broadcast in April, said: “If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

“The scheme is fully open and you have plenty of time to apply.

“It is free and all you need is your passport or ID card and to complete an online form.”

A complainant who heard the advert said they understood that in some cases, applicants also needed to give further proof of address covering the last five years.

They challenged whether it was misleading.

The government says it has worked hard to make the app simple
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EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to make an application for settled status

The Home Office said that at no point was any applicant asked to provide proof of address as part of the initial application process.

It added that it was not possible for the format of the advert to “cover all eventualities”.

The department said that in 73% of cases, applicants did not have to submit any documents to provide evidence of their residence.

But the ASA upheld the complaint.

It said the advert referred to the minimum documentation necessary to complete the initial application form and those listening would infer that these were all they would need to complete the entire process.

The ASA said: “Listeners would likely understand that an official application process of this nature would always require some applicants to provide further information in exceptional cases.

“However, we understood that in 27% of decided adult cases, applicants had been asked to provide additional documents as evidence of residence.

“Furthermore, some applicants were also asked for other documents, such as evidence of a family relationship.”

It added: “While we acknowledged that applicants were not required specifically to submit ‘proof of address’ (as referenced by the complainant), some were required to submit further documents beyond those stated in the ad.

“We considered that the actual proportion who were asked to submit further documents was likely to go beyond what the audience was likely to understand from the claim.

“In that context, we considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that, in some cases, applicants would need to supply documents beyond their passport or ID card.”

The ASA ruled the advert must not be aired again in its current form.

“We told the Home Office to ensure they made sufficiently clear that some applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme would need to provide additional documents beyond their passport or ID card,” it added.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We completely disagree with the ASA’s decision.

“The campaign was factual and complied with all necessary clearance processes for radio advertising.

“The campaign has had a positive impact and encouraged more than one million successful applications so far.

“The scheme is free, straightforward and EU citizens and their family members have plenty of time to apply.

“All they need to apply is their passport or ID card and to complete an online form.”

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