Our Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, Jessie Seal, gives us an update on some key advocacy activity and developments from the last few weeks.
Joint campaigns: #LiftTheBan
This week, the #LiftTheBan coalition held their first meeting since the start of the new parliament. Some incredible work has been done over the past year building a groundswell of support, collecting 76,930 signatures and lobbying tens of local councils passing motions in support of #LiftTheBan. The campaign has gained support from across the political spectrum and is supported by NGOs, individuals and businesses.
The Conservatives were the only party who did not commit to lifting the ban in their manifesto and as we bed into the new parliament, coalition members are assessing the best routes to change. Dependent on how long the current Home Secretary stays in her role, strategy is likely to be focused on direct communication with the Minster and a concerted effort to bring new backbench MPs on board.
#LiftTheBan is a great example of a campaign that unites people underneath a positive message and I’ve been impressed by the work undertaken to get local councils on board. Much of the support that is needed for people to access employment, such as housing, education and health, is administered by local authorities.
NACCOM would like to see local councils committing to local, practical actions at the same time as symbolically supporting #LiftTheBan.
Click here to see how many reasons to #LifttheBan campaigner Catherine can fit into a minute and then share them with your local councillors!
Parliamentary debate: Support for people who are new refugees – a 28-day countdown to destitution
Following the British Red Cross publication of a cost-benefit analysis into extending the 28-day move on period for newly recognised refugees, Thangam Debbonaire MP for Bristol West secured a parliamentary debate, which took place on March 4th. Westminster Hall was well attended by a mixture of Labour, Lid Dem and SNP MPs who shared evidence and experiences from people who are new refugees.
For many people, receiving refugee status is a 28-day countdown to destitution and NACCOM is determined to work with others to change this. Extending to at least 56-days would mean that people could receive their first payment of Universal Credit (which takes 5 weeks) and are better placed to access homelessness support offered by local authorities.
Following the debate, the new (de facto) Minister for Asylum, Chris Philps MP, promised to closely review the savings detailed in the cost-benefit analysis and we will be writing to him to ask what further actions he will be taking.
New Immigration Bill
Finally, on Thursday 5th March the Government introduced their new Immigration Bill. It was interesting to note that the bill was being introduced by Kevin Foster, the Minister for Immigration, rather than the Home Secretary Priti Patel– it may be that a new Home Secretary is in place soon.
This bill does not cover asylum; however, we are watching how changes to the immigration system may contribute to a rise in destitution for people who move to the UK. It is worth following JCWI for more details briefings and suggestions of how you can influence your local MPs.
If you would like to find out more about NACCOM’s advocacy work, please get in touch.