“The EU citizens we support are at high risk of homelessness, including rough sleeping and other forms of social exclusion. They often lack basic digital literacy and access to technology, and many speak little or no English,” Makowska added.
“We would estimate that around ten to 15 per cent of our homeless EU clients feel able to use the EUSS digital portal independently.”
It is very common for people sleeping rough to lose or be robbed of personal items such as mobile phones and ID while on the streets, Makowska said, adding that a number of people have contacted the organisation for help in recent months because they have been unable to access their online profile.
A person risks losing their access to their digital proof of immigration status if they update or change their ID, the3million researchers said, including when they renew a passport, after many people reported the service “failing” when they tried to update their details.
View and Prove alone is not a “viable means for people to prove their status”, a spokesperson said.
“Every life event requiring proof of status now requires a transaction with a government website,” they added, “which requires understanding, digital know-how, access to technology, internet, and an email address [or] telephone number in hand for security confirmation codes.
“Alternatives need to be explored to ensure that people can have personal access to, and ownership of, proof of their right to live in the UK, rather than having to repeatedly obtain permission from the Home Office acting as a gatekeeper to their status.”
In association with o2
O2 and Good Things Foundation have launched the National Databank – like a food bank for digital data, where data is donated so people who need it most can access essential services and keep connected with loved ones. Big Issue vendors will now be getting free data from the Databank too thanks to our new partnership
From April 6, a rule change will mean employers and landlords cannot check migrants’ right to work or rent using physical documents and must rely solely on the online service.
Marginalised people are set to be hit hardest by extended reliance on the digital portal, according to a spokesperson for Citizens Rights Project in Scotland.
“Older citizens have old fashioned phones and no understanding of how to do it online,” they said. “People with mental difficulties will have zero chance to prove their status or do anything else.
“Those living alone, in poverty without the language don’t always have internet at home and if they don’t have family and friends, who will they ask for help?”
Migrants can get help to manage their digital status from the EU Settlement Resolution Centre (EUSRC). But a freedom of information request submitted by the3million showed that 56 per cent of calls to the helpline were abandoned in the 12 months to October 2021. In July last year, the first month that people had to rely solely on the online service, only 31 per cent of calls were handled.
A government spokesperson told the3million: “We acknowledge the move away from physical documents to digital status represents a change which individuals and service providers may take time to get used to.
“This is why it is being rolled out incrementally and with support available to help individuals use their new status.”