CITIZENS Advice York says it is ready to help about 8,000 EU citizens in the city achieve ‘settled status’ after Brexit.

Chief executive Simon Topham has warned that EU nationals could suffer a range of problems if they don’t get such status including the potential loss of services and benefits.

“There are around 8,000 EU-born citizens living in York and most of them will need to take action to secure their rights,” he said. “If we leave without a deal, the deadline for this is December 31, 2020.”

He said it was free to apply, the online application process was fairly straightforward and most people would be able to cope, but the rules varied according to people’s individual circumstances.

“There are particular concerns about people who are vulnerable, don’t have a Smartphone or perhaps those with criminal records acquired as teenagers or young adults,” he said.

“The consequences for not getting Settled Status (or Pre-Settled Status) can be serious including lack of access to residency, services and benefits.”

He said there was help available locally, with Citizens Advice advisers qualified to assist with filling in the form and to help if questions or issues arise.

He said CAY’s partners at Explore York offered access to computers and the internet, and an online ID verification process must also be completed and York Register Office offered a service by appointment to use the ‘Exit EU ID Document Check.’

He added that CAY offered free, confidential and impartial advice to 5,000 York people every year on issues ranging from benefits and debt to housing and family breakdown.

Meanwhile, Mr Topham revealed that he is leaving York at the end of August after two years at the helm to take over leadership of the larger Citizens Advice in Wakefield, with York now searching for a new chief executive.

Mr Topham praised York’s staff and volunteers, saying they were ‘outstanding in their commitment to providing free, impartial advice, and their professionalism is fantastic’.