The Home Office has launched a new wave of promotion for the EU settlement scheme, adding an extra £1m to the programme’s £3.75m launch campaign in March.
Outdoor adverts in more than 2,000 locations will be followed by “eye-catching adverts” on catch-up TV, radio and social media over the coming weeks. The PR blitz will also include foreign-language newspapers and radio stations available in the UK to ensure that the estimated 3.3 million non-UK EU nationals living in this country know what they need to do to secure their long-term right to remain post Brexit.
Launched less than 24 hours after prime minister Boris Johnson reached the tentative new withdrawal agreement with the European Commission, the latest drive comes weeks after the Advertising Standards Authority rapped the Home Office for a “misleading” radio campaign.
The advert, which aired in April, claimed that non-UK European Union nationals seeking the right to remain in this country post-Brexit only needed a passport or ID card to complete the online form to take part in the settlement scheme.
But watchdog the ASA said that in more than a quarter of decided adult cases additional information was required, and it banned the advert from being played again.
Launching the latest wave of promotion, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis said he was “thrilled” that more than two million applications had already been made to the settlement scheme. However he accepted that further promotion was needed to reach other EU nationals who have yet to apply.
“There’s always more to do to raise awareness,” he said. “That’s why I’ve launched this nationwide campaign which will reach people up and down the country through billboards, radio and social media so that EU citizens know how to apply and can get the status they need.”
The Home Office is also holding a series of pop-up events across the UK where staff will answer questions and help people to apply in person.
It has also released a beta version of the EU exit ID document check app for iPhone devices. The app is being tested on the Apple App Store for iPhone 8 and above, and will be available on iPhone 7 and 7 Plus following an upcoming iOS software update.
The Home Office came under fire last year when it was first revealed that the document check app – used to complete the first stage of the settled status application process – would not work on iPhones.
It insisted applicants would have the option of posting their documents or borrowing a friend’s Android device. It has also set up a network of 70 locations around the country where applicants can have their passports scanned.
EU citizens have until at least December 2020 to apply.