Help us defend EU citizens’ rights to live with dignity

by the3million

Help us defend EU citizens’ rights to live with dignity

by the3million
the3million
Case Owner
the3million is the largest grassroots organisation for EU citizens in the UK, formed after the 2016 referendum to protect the rights of people who have made the UK their home.
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Case Owner
the3million is the largest grassroots organisation for EU citizens in the UK, formed after the 2016 referendum to protect the rights of people who have made the UK their home.
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Latest: June 13, 2024

Update on High Court hearing 11 and 12 June 2024

Can people with pre-settled status rely on their status to get homelessness assistance?  

This week we were in the High Court for two full days, as an intervener in the case of Fertre v Vale…

Read more

the3million is ready to go to court to hold this government to account for restricting the rights of marginalised EU citizens and family members. We need your help to build a strategic litigation fund which will enable us to intervene quickly in a series of individual cases. 

We're hoping to raise as much as possible for our fighting fund. Typically, each £10,000 will fund an important legal intervention, which could set legal precedent and help get rights recognised.

No matter where we were born, the colour of our skin, or how much we earn, we all deserve to live with dignity in the country we call home.

But this government is pushing many of our friends, family and neighbours into destitution by unfairly denying immigration status and help when it’s needed. People will be waking up today worrying about how to put food on the table and pay their bills. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can work together and leverage the power of the law to get this government to support communities to be resilient, ensuring everyone has access to the support we need.

How can the3million contribute to making sure EU citizens and family members are not abandoned by the government? 

We believe there are legal arguments to be made to ensure EU citizens are treated fairly under the law, and are granted the correct immigration status, with access to all the rights they are entitled to, including welfare when needed.

We have identified a number of areas where EU citizens and their family members are not being treated fairly. 

The Government does not consider all people with EU Settlement Scheme status to be Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries. Our interventions want to ensure that everyone with EUSS status has access to the full package of rights that were promised.

The Government secretly considers some to be part of a ‘true cohort’ and others to be part of an ‘extra cohort’ - but doesn’t tell anyone which cohort they fall into when they grant them status. 

This leads to many thousands of vulnerable people falling into destitution because they are denied Universal Credit, homelessness assistance and other benefits when they are deemed to be in the 'extra cohort'. It also creates a large and unnecessary pressure on the courts, as vulnerable people need to rely on judges to confirm they have a right to social assistance.

Our interventions will aim to erase the problematic distinction between ‘true’ and ‘extra’ cohort, and ensure that everyone with status under the EU Settlement Scheme has the right to equal treatment as guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement. 



Ella** is a Danish citizen who came to the UK in 2011, but struggled to prove her residence so she was only granted pre-settled status instead of settled status. She had a job for many years but during the pandemic lost her job after she suffered for many months with the after effects of a severe Covid infection. It had an impact on her mental health, and she struggled to return to work.

As her savings depleted, she applied for Universal Credit but was refused, as her pre-settled status was not considered to make her eligible. Faced with potential eviction and homelessness, she turned to her local council, but was similarly refused homeless assistance.

Some groups of family members of EU citizens are at the moment unfairly refused status. Our interventions will aim to expand who is eligible to be granted immigration status through the EU Settlement Scheme.

Jorge** is a Colombian citizen who moved to the UK with his Spanish mum when he was 18. When the UK left the EU, Jorge had to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. He was 22 at the time, had just graduated from university and had been excited to start his first job and move into a flatshare with friends. 

However, the Home Office refused him status. They justify this by saying Jorge is no longer eligible because he’s now over 21 and he no longer financially depends on his mum. Had he still been 21, or had he moved back in with his mum and not accepted that job, the Home Office would have considered him eligible. 




How our legal interventions could create systemic change

A third party intervention is a way for an organisation (that is not otherwise involved in a legal case as for example the claimant or defendant) to submit specialist information or expertise to the court, providing the court with a valuable additional perspective.

We are constantly coming across legal cases which would benefit from our arguments about scope and equal treatment under the Withdrawal Agreement. We have intervened in one such case already, concerning the family member of an EU citizen with pre-settled status who was denied homelessness assistance. 

We hope our intervention was helpful to the court, and we are awaiting judgment. We have published a note on the legal arguments that we used, and hope to use again in other cases.

the3million has demonstrated itself to be a responsible litigant in previous cases, both as claimant and as intervener. In one judgment, the judge said the answer to a legal question was “most precisely articulated” in our submissions.  

As these arguments are made before courts, precedent will be set and the law could be changed. We know that these cases will first be heard in the County Courts, Immigration Tribunals, and Social Security and Child Support Tribunals, and we want to be able to intervene in support of appellants in cases at these initial stages, as well as intervening in cases before the senior courts.

Where is the money going?

In order to make interventions in these cases, we often need to move very quickly. This is why we are aiming to raise funds to cover our legal costs, so we can be agile and intervene as soon as possible.

Interventions are generally cost effective, as we would generally only need to pay our own legal costs, rather than also being at risk of paying the other side's legal costs if the case doesn't go our way.

Our lawyers’ costs for an intervention will vary depending on the issues at hand and the nature of the intervention (i.e. whether we just make written submissions or appear in court to make oral arguments). Our legal team agreed to do our latest important intervention (kindly funded by the Strategic Legal Fund) for just under £10,000. 

Their work on this case included extensive legal strategising and two full days in court, so other interventions are likely to cost less than this and will build on the strategic legal thinking we’ve already done. 

We know that the solicitors and barristers that we work with are committed to and support our aims, and want to work as cost effectively as possible, so we can all maximise the impact the3million can have. 

As a not-for-profit organisation, the3million does not have resources dedicated to cover these costs, so we are reaching out to people to support these interventions. All Crowdjustice funds raised will go towards this for as long as we can identify legal challenges in which our intervention will add value. We anticipate this will last for several years. Any funds remaining when this campaign is closed will be used to support the3million’s work advocating for EU citizens’ rights. 

Thank you!

We will update our campaign page regularly, providing details of judgments as they unfold.  

Thank you for reading about our campaign!




*the3million uses ‘EU citizens’ as shorthand for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK before 31 December 2020, and their family members (of any nationality) with derived rights.

** These examples are for illustrative purposes only. They show the type of cases and personal circumstances our litigation will benefit from. Personal details are not attributed to already ongoing work.

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Update 6

the3million

June 13, 2024

Update on High Court hearing 11 and 12 June 2024

Can people with pre-settled status rely on their status to get homelessness assistance?  

This week we were in the High Court for two full days, as an intervener in the case of Fertre v Vale of White Horse District Council, an appeal against a decision by the local authority that Ms Fertre was not eligible for homelessness assistance based on her pre-settled status alone.

We want status under the EU Settlement Scheme to be recognised as proof of rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, which includes the right to equal treatment. We argue this would mean that people with pre-settled status can access benefits and homelessness assistance on exactly the same basis as British citizens, without the extra burdensome and complicated hurdle of a ‘right to reside’ test.

The High Court appeal this week is very important, because it is the first time a judge of the High Court has been asked to consider whether pre-settled status holders enjoy equal treatment rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, and should therefore be eligible for homelessness assistance on the same basis as British citizens. At the moment, the legislation excludes them from accessing support unless they pass the ‘right to reside’ test.  

Because of the significance of this case, there were other interveners alongside us: 

Those arguing that pre-settled status should not mean automatic rights to equal treatment:

  • the Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

  • the Independent Monitoring Authority.

Those arguing that pre-settled status is sufficient to access equal treatment rights under the Withdrawal Agreement:

  • the3million 

  • Shelter

We will of course let you know about the outcome as soon as the judgment is handed down.

Update 5

the3million

May 28, 2024

Another successful intervention! Judgment in Hynek v Islington

Our intervention in Hynek v Islington has helped in getting a positive result for Mr Hynek in his case against Islington Council.


The judge has ruled that people with pre-settled status within the personal scope of the Withdrawal Agreement are entitled to equal treatment rights under it. This means that Mr Hynek is eligible for the homelessness assistance that he applied for in 2023. The full judgment can be found here.


Mr Hynek, a Slovakian citizen, was granted pre-settled status in 2019. He was working as a software engineer until May 2020, and then struggled to find another job during the Covid pandemic. In 2021 he applied for homelessness assistance, as he found himself between sofa surfing and having to sleep outside at times. He was refused because Islington Council said he did not pass the ‘right to reside test’, and that his pre-settled status alone was not enough for him to be eligible for homelessness assistance.


The judge however has agreed with our fundamental argument that people who get pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme are conferred with rights under the Withdrawal Agreement if they are within its personal scope.


The UK chose to implement a Withdrawal Agreement scheme that compels people to make an application for status, and the logical consequence of that is that they then acquire all the rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.


The judge also agreed with us that pre-settled status holders enjoy the rights and protections set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, including, importantly, equal treatment rights. This means being able to apply for homelessness assistance on the same basis as a British citizen, without the extra hurdle of a complex additional ‘right to reside’ test. We believe the same interpretation should now apply for welfare benefits, including Universal Credit and housing benefit.


This County Court judgment is not binding, however, and this is why we will continue to make interventions on this very important legal point until the legal position is confirmed. 

Update 4

the3million

May 23, 2024

Success in court! Judge delivers verdict in C v Oldham

We are pleased to update that the first housing case we intervened in has been successful. C, who is a family member of an EU citizen, has won the case, with the court finding her eligible for housing assistance. 

Our intervention was appreciated by the judge, who agreed with our argument that the rights of family members who were dependants of EU citizens before the end of the transition period continue after they are no longer dependent on their EU sponsor.  

Please support us on our journey to make really important interventions in legal cases that affect marginalised and vulnerable EU citizens and family members. We want to carry on doing this until the Government changes the law. But we can only do this if we continue raising funds to be able to pay our legal team.


Background to the case

In February, we intervened in a case where Oldham Council formed the view that it must deny homelessness assistance to C, due to the way they interpret the law for those with pre-settled status.

We were granted permission to intervene in this case (kindly funded by ILPA’s Strategic Legal Fund), to set out our view that anyone with status under the EU Settlement Scheme is entitled to equal treatment rights. This includes therefore that anyone with pre-settled status should be considered for welfare and homelessness assistance on the same basis as a British citizen. Our arguments are set out in this legal note.

During the course of the intervention, the3million’s legal team brought an additional point to the court’s attention that had not been considered by the other parties. This was related to Article 17(2) of the Withdrawal Agreement, which says that rights of family members who were dependants of EU citizens before the end of the transition period continue even after they are no longer dependent on their EU sponsor.

The judge agreed that Oldham Council had made a mistake when assessing whether C was dependent on her EU sponsors at the point in time it was carrying out the review of her homelessness application in 2022, as under Article 17(2), she continued to enjoy rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, even if she was no longer dependent. 

We are really pleased that the judge agreed that C should have equal treatment rights on the basis of this Article 17(2) argument. Our intervention means that C should now be treated as being eligible for housing assistance.

The full judgement can be found here. The crucial value of our intervention is recognised by the judge where he states “The final issue [that of the effect of Article 17(2)], which is of some real importance, arose late. It was first raised by T3M the day before the hearing through the provision of a short note.

The judge did not agree with our broader argument that everyone with pre-settled status has equal treatment rights. However, his comments on this are not binding on other judges and did not ultimately decide the appeal. This is why we continue to make interventions on this very important legal point and we await the outcomes of those cases.

The judgment is also important because the judge also found that C, as a pre-settled status holder, was entitled to rely on important rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and that the local authority was under an obligation to consider her Charter rights. It had been established in AT v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2023] EWCA Civ 1307 that DWP had to consider these obligations when assessing applications for Universal Credit. The judge agreed that this duty also applied in the context of applications for homelessness assistance. 

Other cases

As we set out in our previous update, these arguments were also heard in the case of J v Islington on 23 April, on which we are waiting for the judgment. 

Since pre-settled status is quite literally the proof that the Home Office has given someone the right to reside in the UK, it is unacceptable that when it comes to receiving help from the state, this status is considered not to be a right to reside. It’s nonsensical.

The very fact that a judge is required to work out whether or not someone with pre-settled status is entitled to help from the state proves how complex the eligibility criteria are. This is a waste of time for councils, for the judiciary, and above all for the vulnerable individuals at the heart of each case who are left destitute for months or years on end as the legal process drags on. 

As very similar cases continue to come up, of different councils all over the country refusing homeless assistance to people with pre-settled status, we will continue to seek to intervene.

In some local authorities in the UK, EU citizens now make up 60-70% of people with no recourse to public funds appealing to their local council for help.

Please support us to fund these interventions 

We can only do this with your help, so please consider whether you can make a donation no matter how small. Everything adds up and together we can do this. 

Together we will build our intervention fighting fund, to put this strategic litigation on a sustainable footing, and ensure that our dedicated legal teams can be paid.

Your donations will help us be agile and to intervene quickly in cases so that we can try to influence the legal precedent being set, and to put an end to the restrictions of rights of marginalised EU citizens and their family members.

Update 3

the3million

May 22, 2024

Judge grants us permission to intervene in another important case

Today we can announce that we have been granted permission to intervene in a third important legal case, that of Ms Fertre v Vale of White Horse District Council. Ms Fertre was denied homeless assistance and a place on the housing register in 2021. 

The case will be heard in the High Court on 11th and 12th June.

The judge who granted us permission stated that he was “in no doubt that, given the nature and importance of the issue, efficient written and brief oral intervention by each of the three interveners from their different areas of expertise and experience will be of considerable assistance to the Court”.

This case was transferred from the County Court to the High Court in recognition of the importance of the questions it throws up on rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The local authority wanted the case to be struck out, and it also opposed our application to intervene. There was therefore a court hearing last week, where a judge had to decide on these matters. The judgment of that hearing can be read here.

What did the judgment of that hearing say?

There will be three intervenors in the case:

  • the3million

  • The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC)

  • The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA)

The judge did not agree that the appeal should be struck out, as he accepted there was a real benefit to Ms Fertre in her appeal continuing, even if she is not currently homelessness. His judgment makes several very important findings:

  • Even if a person with pre-settled status is not currently homeless, it can still make a big difference if the judge ultimately finds on appeal that the council was wrong to refuse them homelessness assistance in the past on the basis that they were not eligible.

    Firstly, if someone is made homeless again in the future, they will find it easier to prove their eligibility for homelessness assistance if they have a judgment confirming they are eligible.

    Secondly, if they had applied to go on the housing register, such a finding would mean that their place on the housing register could be backdated to the original date. This can make a huge difference since there are long waiting lists for social housing, and some pre-settled status holders will have (in our view incorrectly) had their applications refused on the basis that they are not eligible.

  • The judge considers that the case raises issues of "considerable public importance". He also recognises that the current system requires local authorities and courts to keep making and reviewing decisions on very similar cases, with many going to Court, and that the financial burden caused by this uncertainty “is being multiplied throughout England and Wales” and “falling on the public purse”.

The UK has legislated that people with pre-settled status do not have a ‘right to reside’ for welfare and benefits purposes. But since pre-settled status is quite literally the proof that the Home Office has given someone the right to reside in the UK, it is nonsensical that when it comes to receiving help from the state, this status is considered not to be a right to reside. 

The3million’s view is that this approach is a fundamental breach of the Withdrawal Agreement, and that everyone with status under the EU Settlement Scheme is entitled to equal treatment rights. This includes therefore that anyone with pre-settled status should be considered for welfare and homelessness assistance on the same basis as a British citizen. Our arguments are set out in this legal note.

In some local authorities in the UK, EU citizens now make up 60-70% of people with no recourse to public funds appealing to their local council for help.

Please continue to support us to fund these interventions by donating and sharing our crowdfunder!

Update 2

the3million

April 22, 2024

We're in court today!

Two weeks ago we were able to tell you that we had been granted permission to intervene in a County Court case called J v London Borough of Islington. That case is being heard today, and we wanted to explain a little more about how our intervention fits into this case.

What is the case about?

This case is being brought by J, a Slovakian citizen who was denied homelessness assistance by the London Borough of Islington. J has had pre-settled status since December 2019, and worked as a software engineer until the Covid pandemic. The extent to which he was able to work was limited by his health problems, with his situation becoming increasingly precarious. In the end he applied for homelessness assistance. However, Islington Council formed the view that it had to refuse him this help, because of the way they interpret the legislation for those with pre-settled status.

On what grounds is the refusal for homelessness assistance being challenged?

With legal challenges, it is possible to argue more than one ground. J’s lawyers are challenging this refusal on three grounds. 

The first is that anyone with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme has the right to equal treatment. This means that people with pre-settled status should be treated in the same way as British citizens, including when it comes to welfare benefits and homelessness assistance.

Current legislation says that someone with pre-settled status needs to satisfy an additional hurdle, the so-called ‘Right to Reside’ test. This is a hurdle that many vulnerable and marginalised people struggle to satisfy, or to evidence even if they do satisfy it. J’s lawyers will argue that it is wrong to subject pre-settled status holders to that additional test.

The second ground is related to the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has been the subject of a high profile court case AT, see here for more information on that case.

And the final ground is to argue that in any case, even if the first two grounds fail, J should be eligible because he is still self-employed and thereby satisfies that extra ‘Right to Reside’ test.

What is the3million’s intervention about?

Our intervention is entirely focused on the first of the three legal grounds described above. 

The Withdrawal Agreement promises equal treatment rights - which means anyone with status under the EU Settlement Scheme should be considered for welfare and homelessness assistance on the same basis as a British citizen

There are always eligibility criteria around welfare, but the point is that if a British citizen in the exact same situation would be eligible for help from the state, then so should a person with pre-settled status. 

We think the Government legislation which imposes the extra ‘right to reside’ hurdle is unlawful.

Since pre-settled status is quite literally the proof that the Home Office has given someone the right to reside in the UK, it is unacceptable that when it comes to receiving help from the state, this status is considered not to be a right to reside in itself. It’s nonsensical.

Our intervention will be based on the arguments we ran in a previous intervention (see our legal note). 

What type of intervention - written or oral?

When intervening in a case, it is possible to do so in one of two ways.

Our lawyers can request permission to send written submissions to the Court, in which we set out all our arguments. 

Alternatively, it is possible to ask for permission to make oral submissions. This involves our barrister sending written arguments to the Court in advance of the hearing, and on the day of the hearing also being  allocated time to fully set out the reasoning behind those arguments, and to answer any questions from the judge/s.

The decision on whether to make written or oral submissions depends on various factors, one of which is how much time there is available in the hearing. As a responsible intervener, we generally do not want to disrupt the timetable that was set before we become involved in the case.

For this case today, we have made written submissions. This means our barrister won’t be speaking at the court hearing. However, a representative from the3million will be attending the hearing, as it is very important not only to hear all the arguments from the appellant, the respondent and any other interveners, but also to hear the questions that the judge has for the various legal teams. The judge/s will have already read the legal arguments set out in our written intervention and will be required to take note of them when reaching a decision on the case.

When will we know the outcome?

In general, the judge does not hand down judgment on the day of the hearing. It can take some weeks, or sometimes longer, to receive the court’s decision.

We will of course continue to keep you updated, and in the meantime we hope you will continue to support us by donating and sharing our crowdfunder!

Update 1

the3million

April 11, 2024

Granted permission in one case, applied for permission in another

Since the launch of our crowdfunder three weeks ago, we have been granted permission to intervene in one legal case, and applied for permission to intervene in another. 

Permission granted to intervene in County Court case: J v London Borough of Islington 

Last week, we were granted permission by the court to intervene in a case brought by J, a Slovakian citizen who was denied homelessness assistance.

J was granted pre-settled status in December 2019. Although he worked for a time as a software developer and web designer, he had health problems and struggled during the Covid years. He applied for homelessness assistance, but Islington Council formed the view that it had to turn him down. He has been sofa-surfing with kind friends ever since.

Islington Council thinks it has to apply the ‘Right to Reside’ test, an additional hurdle put in front of people with pre-settled status which many vulnerable and marginalised people struggle to satisfy.

The Withdrawal Agreement promises equal treatment rights - which means anyone with status under the EU Settlement Scheme should be considered for welfare and homelessness assistance on the same basis as a British citizen. We therefore think the Government legislation which imposes this extra ‘right to reside’ hurdle is unlawful.

Since pre-settled status is quite literally the proof that the Home Office has given someone the right to reside in the UK, it is unacceptable that when it comes to receiving help from the state, this status is considered not to be a right to reside. It’s nonsensical.

We are delighted that we have been granted permission to intervene. Our intervention will be based on the arguments we ran in a previous intervention (see our legal note). 

Applied for permission to intervene in High Court case: EU citizen vs a Local Authority

Earlier this week, we applied for permission to intervene in another similar case, where an EU citizen with pre-settled status was denied homelessness assistance because the Local Authority thinks it must apply the ‘Right to Reside’ test which does not accept pre-settled status as a ‘right to reside’.

This case has been transferred from the County Court to the High Court, in recognition of the importance of the questions it throws up on rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Please support us by donating and sharing this fundraiser far and wide

Your donations will help us be agile and to intervene quickly in cases so that we can try to influence the legal precedent being set, and to put an end to the restrictions of rights of marginalised EU citizens and their family members.

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