Home Office under fire for misleading EU Settlement Scheme ad


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Home Office radio ad for misleading listeners on the documentation they require for the EU Settlement Scheme.

As Brexit looms over European settlers in the UK, the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme aims to help those who want to continue residency after free movement ends.

As part of a wider campaign to raise awareness to the scheme, the radio ad calls out to listeners that to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme “all you need is your passport or ID card and to complete an online form.”

Home Office ad: Home Office EU Settlement Scheme by TheDrum

A radio ad for the EU Settlement Scheme, heard on 13 April 2019, stated “If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, you will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The scheme is fully open and you have plenty of time to apply.

The ad watchdog received a complaint that challenged the Home Office for misleading listeners, who may assume all they need is a passport or ID card. The challenger understood that in some cases applicants also need to provide proof of address covering the previous five years.

In defence of the ad created by FCB Inferno, the Home Office said in 73% of cases, all the evidence of residence that was needed to make the decision was provided either by automated cross-government checks or by Home Office records.

It argued that it isn’t possible to cover all aspects of the application process in a short radio ad and believed it described the key elements of the application process.

While the Home Office’s argument that most proof of residence was done automatically, the ASA questioned the 27% of cases where applicants had been asked to provide documents as evidence of residence following the application.

While the application form does not require citizens to submit proof of residence, a proportion are asked to further along the application process, and it, therefore felt the ad did not make this sufficiently clear.

Further, it said some applicants had been asked to submit other documents, including evidence of a family relationship for those applying as the non-EE family member of an EEA citizen.

While it acknowledged that the ad referred to the minimum documents that were required to complete the initial application form, it felt listeners would understand it to mean all the documents they would need to complete the entire process for applying for EU settled status. Therefore, the ad watchdog decided to ban the ad for misleading applicants on the documentation they would require.



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