Around 1,500 EU citizens in North Devon and Torridge have applied to live and work in the UK after Brexit, according to Home Office figures.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows resident EU and Swiss citizens, plus those from the European Economic Area countries to apply to continue living and working in the UK.

The numbers show that as of December 31, 2019, 1,040 people had applied under the scheme in North Devon and 470 in Torridge.

Of those, around half had 'settled status', meaning they have a permanent right to remain in the UK, while the rest had 'pre-settled status', which gives them permission to keep living in the country and the chance to reapply once they have been here for five years.

The majority of applications in both districts came from Polish people, with 220 applying in North Devon and 90 in Torridge, which also had 90 applications from Latvians and 60 from Romanians.

In North Devon, Eastern Europeans made up the majority of applicants, at 700 in total.

It is difficult to say how many EU citizens are residing here - ONS (Office of National Statistics) data which covered the year to June 2019 says there were 3,000 non-British people living in North Devon, of which 2,000 were from the EU.

But the data is rounded up to the nearest thousand and does not seem to register the 700 Eastern Europeans who have applied in North Devon alone.

John Patrinos of the local branch of campaign group Devon for Europe, said the 1,500 that had applied to stay was less than a third of the total.

He said: "Nationally a quarter of applicants have been left with continued uncertainty over their future, sometimes resulting in them losing jobs and leaving the country. Having second-class citizens like this is not the mark of a civilised country.

"I'm really worried about the ability of our hospital and care homes to cope with this crack down on the staff they so desperately need.

"For example, we probably all know that North Devon District Hospital doesn't need to be replaced, it just needs to be fully staffed. But recruitment of nurses from the EU dropped by 95 per cent as a result of the referendum. I dread to think how much suffering and death has resulted.

"We would ask anyone who has a friend, acquaintance, neighbour or family member from an EU country to urge them to apply for settled status as soon as possible, both for their own sakes but also because the people of Devon need their skills so urgently."