Lib Dems to scrap settlement fees for Armed Forces veterans
The party described charges on applying for indefinite leave to remain as ‘excessive’.
Armed Forces veterans who were born outside the UK would be exempt from paying settlement fees under Liberal Democrat proposals for government.
The party has vowed to end the “excessive” indefinite leave to remain fees for former service personnel and their families applying to take up their right to settle in Britain.
Its analysis suggests the processing fees for such applications have increased three-fold since 2007 – from £750 to £2,389 – which would set a family of four back by almost £10,000.
However the Government estimates the unit cost to the Home Office of processing indefinite leave to remain applications is just £243.
Lib Dem defence spokesman Jamie Stone, announcing the proposal on Remembrance Sunday, warned the costs are preventing “many brave veterans and their families from living in the UK”.
He said: “Foreign and Commonwealth citizens have a proud legacy of serving our country in the Armed Forces. These excessive fees have prevented many brave veterans and their families from living in the UK and forced many to a life of destitution.
“These men and women risk their lives in the service of our country, and the fact they are treated this way by the Conservative Party is yet another horrible example of the hostile environment.
“A Liberal Democrat government will waive the outrageous application fees for members of the Armed Forces on discharge and their families.”
The Lib Dems said the fees mean some veterans have been forced to leave the country they served, while others have remained in the UK without immigration status and unable to work.
One veteran, originally from Fiji, who wished to remain anonymous, told the PA news agency that after serving for 18 years in the British Army, the fee had prevented him from gaining indefinite leave to remain – meaning he could not work after being medically discharged.
He described the fee as a “slap in the face”, and questioned: “What’s the point in saying ‘for your tomorrow, we gave our today’ when we fought for your today and we can’t even survive our tomorrow?”