Call for children’s citizenship charge to be lowered

Sue Mullins is caling for the charge on registering children as UK citizens to be lowered
Sue Mullins is caling for the charge on registering children as UK citizens to be lowered

West Sussex County Council has been asked to write to the government to call for the cost of registering a child as a UK citizen to be lowered.

Sue Mullins (Lab, Northgate & West Green) has tabled a notice of motion, which will be considered at County Hall on Friday (July 20).

The Home Office was criticised in February after it was revealed it had made £800m in six years from nationality services – a cost it said was fair and used to fund the wider immigration system.

It costs £1,012 to apply for a child to be registered as a UK citizen, and a judicial review, brought by the Project for Registration of Children as British Citizens and Amnesty International UK, revealed that the administrative cost was only £372, a difference of £640.

The notice tabled by Mrs Mullins said there were ‘significant numbers’ of children in the UK who had the right to register as British citizens but had not done so.

Mrs Mullins said: “Many of these children were born in the UK, and others have lived here from a young age, been raised here, educated here, and have never known any other home.

“Without access to their citizenship rights, children may find themselves denied opportunities extended to their peers, such as the chance to participate in a school trip, or to be eligible for funding, so they can undertake higher education.”

She added: “No child should be denied their citizenship rights by reason of a fee.

“There is no substitute for citizenship, which is vital to future security and sense of belonging.”

When it came to children in care, Mrs Mullins pointed out that the cost of registering a child would fall on the county council, as corporate parent.

She said: “The fee puts councils in the unacceptable position of having to weigh the benefits of citizenship to a child in their care against the cost to the council of assisting a child in claiming that right.”

As well as asking the council to write to Caroline Nokes MP, minister of immigration, demanding a reduction in the fee, Mrs Mullins also called for looked after children to be exempt from the fee, and for the council to ensure all children in care were aware of their citizenship rights.  

A briefing note from Kim Curry, executive director children, adults, families, health and education, said the council had no written policy on the issue but was ‘committed to the welfare of children in its care’, which included paying for citizenship applications where necessary.

The meeting will be held in County Hall, West Street, Chichester, at 10.30am on Friday.