An error by the Home Office saw more than 140,000 EU citizens wrongly receive benefits.

The information comes as the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), shared it was made aware of the issue last week and has now written to the Home Office in a bid to “seek clarity on what steps have already been taken to remedy it and what further steps will be taken”.

If EU citizens have wrongly received benefits, they could see the government demand millions of pounds in refunds from those that claimed.

However, the government may also decide not to pursue those that received benefits and no longer live in the country, according to The Guardian.

It’s believed the error was revealed after the Home Office began updating UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI)’s register for anyone that has been refused settled or pre-settle status in the EU settlement scheme, post-Brexit.

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Those who had decisions pending were granted a “certificate of application” allowing them to enjoy rights, including access to benefits.

However, the applications mean that Home Office has now discovered more than 140,000 had continued to show a certificate application status rather than a “refused” status.

Meaning that they have had access to benefits even though they had been denied the right to remain in the UK.

As the IMA said: “The Home Office has confirmed that this only affects individuals who received a refusal decision between 27 June 2021 and 19 April 2022. Anyone who has been granted pre-settled or settled status is unaffected, and they do not need to take any action.”

It is also “seeking assurance that the EUSS digital system is fit for purpose, maintained and audited to reflect accurate digital statuses, and accurately available on demand for all eligible citizens”

A spokesperson for the Home Office did not share the amount of money paid in error but did share that they “are working across government and with the EU and member states to understand any further implications and to ensure the situation is managed quickly and pragmatically.”