A South London primary school will today (9 June) host the launch of a campaign against a government policy that netted it more than £100m in just three years while leaving tens of thousands of children who are entitled to British citizenship undocumented.
Children into Citizens is a joint initiative between Citizens UK and students from the Institute of Education at University College London.
Their research into child citizenship fees in the UK has produced a report – Price of Belonging.
Launched today at Surrey Square Primary School in Southwark, it shows the UK government made £102,749,216 profit from child citizenship fees from 2017 to 2020.
The campaign says the huge fee blocks many children from accessing their right to British citizenship. The Home Office says it costs £372 to process an applications.
The researchers say that, as a result of these fees, which are among the highest in the world, between 85,000 and 215,000 children who are entitled to British citizenship are left undocumented.
Their report includes testimonials from students, teachers and community organisers, international comparisons of citizenship fees, and details the social, educational, health and economic implications for children barred from being a legal citizen.
The campaign calls on Home Secretary Priti Patel to:
Reduce the £1,012 citizenship fee to £372.
Waive the application fees for families who cannot afford it.
Exempt children in care and care leavers from having to pay the fee.
Families with children at St. Gabriel’s College in Lambeth will be among those at the event which will be live-streamed via Zoom. It is due to begin at 3.45pm.
Without citizenship, most children would have to pay the higher rate international student fees at university and would be unable to take out student loans, effectively barring them from university.
It would also prevent them from being able to vote and participate in public life and having the dignity of being recognised as a citizen in the country they call home.
Even if families can find the money, they are often forced into debt, which causes families, like Bernice and her two children, a great deal of stress.
International comparisons (simplified)