The Government has been warned it could face a ‘Windrush 2’ as vulnerable older people are failing to apply to the EU settlement scheme (EUSS) in time.
Age UK has warned older EU nationals living in the UK could be shut out of public services or even be put at risk of deportation if they do not register by the deadline.
Figures show that only 16% of EU nationals aged 65 and above have made an application to the EUSS compared to 30% of working age people.
The charity said the Government expects most people to register online, even though a quarter of over-65s have not used the internet in the last three months. Older people may also face physical ill health, dementia or other forms of cognitive problems that can prevent them for applying.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘A compulsory Settlement Scheme, designed to operate mostly online and with potentially dire consequences for anyone who fails to comply with it, spells big trouble ahead we fear for thousands of older people who have lived for donkey’s years in this country.’
She added: ‘Older people living with dementia and older people who are not in touch with public services and who keep themselves to themselves are especially at risk we believe, and they should not be penalised as a result.’
The Local Government Association (LGA) said it was working with the Home Office to raise awareness of the scheme.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, chairman of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce, said: 'In particular, we are seeking greater clarity surrounding the roles and responsibilities of and funding for councils and local partners for people receiving care and support. Providing councils with regular and detailed breakdowns of outstanding applications will also assist in identifying pockets of where more targeted support may be needed.'