The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has hailed the Government for finally “providing clarity and certainty” for the 170,000 EU nationals working in retail.

The Home Office yesterday unveiled details of a post-Brexit EU citizen settlement scheme, pledging to fast-track the registration process for EU citizens who want to remain in the UK following its exit from the union.

It promised that the application process would be “short, simple and user-friendly”, with decisions on applications to be given within “a matter of days”.

The move – two years after the Brexit referendum – goes some way to removing the uncertainty that has surrounded the future of EU nationals living in the UK since the shock vote.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “With the scheme, we’re meeting our commitment to secure the rights of EU citizens who are already in this country, contributing in so many ways, they’re working, they’re studying, or for other reasons.

“We want them to stay and we want to make that process of staying as easy as possible.”

The scheme will open on a phased basis later this year, with applications costing £65 per adult.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Today’s statement is welcomed by retailers and their supply chains. Providing clarity and certainty for the 170,000 EU colleagues working in the industry has been at the forefront of retailers’ minds since the Brexit referendum.”

She added: “As we look ahead to the UK’s new immigration system it is essential the Government recognise the valuable contribution EU citizens make across the retail industry and their supply chains.

“We have the opportunity to design a new, sustainable immigration system that recognises the changing nature of retail, and has the confidence of the public.”