Outgoing mayor criticises profits made from British citizenship process

Alan Bennett after his fund raising talk at Friends House, with Camden mayor Cllr Richard Cotton

Alan Bennett after his fund raising talk at Friends House, with Camden mayor Cllr Richard Cotton - Credit: Richard Cotton

Camden Council’s outgoing mayor has criticised the cost of people becoming British citizens, and says it is pricing them out of doing so.

Richard Cotton stepped down at Camden Council’s council AGM last week, after a year of memorably representing the borough in his well-known wide range of colourful suits.

As part of his role, he has presided over citizenship ceremonies, and also led them when he was deputy mayor the year before.

He is concerned about the increase in price over the past few years, and believes it is pricing Camden residents out of getting the same rights as British citizens.

When the coalition government came to power in 2010, they were around £200.

Eight years later, they have soared to £1410 per adult, with children costing around £1092.

This is without the costs for the exams applicants have to take.

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Getting leave to remain status to settle costs £2389 per person.

Cllr Cotton will be formally writing to MPs about the fees, now he has stepped down.

He told the Ham&High: “They have now gone up nearly ten-fold since 2010.

“I know of people in my ward who are priced out of it. You have to cover the costs, but this is making a considerable profit.

“The people who work in the health service and our care homes, on London Living Wage, will find it more difficult than someone on a higher wage.”

After administrative costs for the council are deducted, the money goes to the government.

Cllr Cotton said when the amount is added up for an average family of four, the amount becomes unrealistic.

“If you’ve got two adults and two children, that’s more than £5000. People want to do it, and just can’t afford it.”

Cllr Cotton was replaced as mayor last night by Kentish Town councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells.

As part of his ceremonial role he has also raised a record total of more than £45,000 for homeless charity C4WS.

He said he was pleased about the increased exposure for the issue, as well as the money raised.

“It’s a fantastic amount, and over our target. It’s not just about the money, it’s about raising the profile.

“I will go and volunteer this coming winter because the problem is still going to be there.

“I won’t be happy until people are not homeless.”