NACCOM’s vision is for the UK to have a fair, just and humane asylum and immigration system, which enables people seeking asylum, refugees and other migrants to be free from destitution and to live with dignity and agency.  As part of this, we want to see an end to homelessness and destitution for everyone – regardless of immigration status.  

Ahead of the General Election on July 4th, NACCOM’s Policy and Research Co-ordinator, Leon Elliott, looks at the main party manifestos, including those in devolved nations, to see what Labour, Conservatives, Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru have proposed on key issues relating to migration, homelessness and destitution. Leon commented:

The General Election provides a moment to recommit to ending homelessness for everyone, however, this is going to require clear political will from any incoming government, and a bold, ambitious, cross-governmental approach to ending homelessness.  

This isn’t just about bringing in one or two policies – a systems-wide approach is needed, involving greater collaboration between government departments, enhanced collaboration with voluntary and statutory services, and improved access to justice through legal systems.  

Most importantly, to achieve this shared goal of preventing and ending homelessness for all, ending homelessness must be a considered part of the immigration system, and the harmful policies that drive homelessness and destitution reversed.”  

Policy area: Immigration and Asylum 

The Liberal Democrats are the only main party to pledge explicitly to scrap the Illegal Migration Act in their manifesto. Labour state that they would ‘restore order to the asylum system so that it operates swiftly, firmly, and fairly’, whilst the Green Party re-affirm their belief in ‘the right to claim asylum, in any country, as set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.’  

Both the Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos describe the Rwanda scheme as ‘unworkable’, and pledge to invest savings from ending the Migration and Economic Development partnership with Rwanda – a cornerstone of the Illegal Migration Act – in other areas of the asylum system. 

The Conservative manifesto re-iterates the party’s ambition to fully implement the Illegal Migration Act: ‘If we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the ECtHR, we will always choose our security.’ In contrast, the Labour, Greens, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru manifestos all affirm the parties’ unequivocal support for remaining a member of the ECHR.  

The SNP has vowed to ‘stand up for asylum seekers by scrapping the morally repugnant Rwanda scheme’, whilst in Wales, a nation of sanctuary, Plaid Cymru have stated they ‘strongly oppose the Conservative UK Government’s proposals and attitudes towards asylum seekers and refugees, including deportation to Rwanda and the general hostile environment’, and urge the UK Government to uphold its commitments under the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as support the repeal of both the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and Illegal Migration Act of 2023.  

All the major party manifestos emphasize the need for more efficient asylum processing to address the growing backlog of people currently in the asylum system. Several parties emphasise the need to accelerate the removal of people seeking asylum.  

Committed to their deterrence-based Illegal Migration Act and Safety of Rwanda Act, the Conservatives pledge to clear the current backlog and end the use of hotels by processing all claims within six months, and running ‘a relentless, continual process of permanently removing illegal migrants to Rwanda… until the boats are stopped.’  

The Labour manifesto also commits to ending the use of hotels as asylum accommodation, and pledges to hire additional asylum caseworkers to process claims ‘swiftly, firmly, and fairly.’ The party also pledges to create a new ‘returns and enforcement unit, with an additional 1,000 staff’ in order to ‘fast-track removals to safe countries for people who do not have the right to stay here.’ Both Labour and Conservatives commit to signing more returns deals to increase the number of safe countries that people with failed asylum claims can be sent back to. 

The Liberal Democrats pledge a standard of three months for all but the most complex asylum claims to be processed, and like the Labour party commit to setting up a dedicated unit to improve the ‘speed and quality of asylum decision-making’ and to ‘speed up returns of those without a right to stay’. 

The Green Party describe the need for ‘a fast and fair process to assess asylum applications’, but do not state a time-based target, nor outline any plans to accelerate removals from the UK.  

Plaid Cymru pledge to introduce ‘an online programme which shows an indicator of a likely outcome for an asylum application’ to help manage the asylum application process. 

Labour aims to establish a new Border Security Command, consisting of new investigators, intelligence officers, and cross-border police officers, which it claims will help to ‘pursue, disrupt, and arrest’ the criminal gangs’ responsible for small boat crossings. They would also seek a new security agreement with the EU to enable policing teams to lead joint investigations.  

Likewise, the Liberal Democrats manifesto pushes for closer working with Europol and the French authorities ‘to stop the smuggling and trafficking gangs’, whilst the Conservatives pledge to continue to deploy the National Crime Agency and intelligence services to ‘crack down on organised immigration crime’, ‘disrupt supply chains’ and ‘tackle people smugglers.’    

The Liberal Democrats manifesto states that the party would push for ‘safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees’; the expansion of the UK Resettlement Scheme; new ‘humanitarian travel permits’ that would allow asylum seekers to travel to the UK safely to proceed with their claims; a new scheme to resettle unaccompanied asylum seeking children from elsewhere in Europe; the expansion of scope of refugee family reunion; new community-sponsorship projects for refugees; and enhanced protections for people seeking asylum because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.  

Meanwhile, the Green Party would ‘work with other countries to establish safe routes by which those fleeing persecution, war, or climate disaster may arrive in the country of their choice to make their case without having to risk their lives.’ 

Whilst proceeding with the Illegal Migration Act, the Conservatives pledge to maintain visa schemes for people fleeing Hong Kong, Ukraine and our Afghan settlement schemes, and to give parliament control of how many places are offered ‘on safe and legal routes to support those in genuine need’, with a cap ‘based on the capacity of local areas.’ 

Plaid Cymru acknowledge the importance of providing safe routes to claim asylum, and state that ‘effective management of the asylum process would allow processing to take place prior to reaching the UK, in a third country such as France or at British embassies or consulates abroad’, reducing the need for dangerous journeys. 

The Liberal Democrats, Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru all push for those seeking asylum to be permitted to work while their application is being decided, with the former stating that they would ‘Lift the ban on asylum seekers working if they have been waiting for a decision for more than three months, enabling them to support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute to the economy.’ 

Whilst acknowledging that ‘people who have come to the UK to work make a substantial contribution to our economy, our public services, and our communities’ the Labour manifesto states that immigration ‘must be properly controlled and managed.’ The manifesto states that the party will ‘reduce net migration’ and ‘reform the points-based immigration system so that it is fair and properly managed.’ The manifesto also pledges a zero-tolerance approach to employers or recruitment agencies responsible for ‘abusing the visa system’, suggesting that Labour would bar employers who breach immigration rules and employment law from hiring workers from abroad. 

The Conservative manifesto pledges to reduce net migration by introducing a ‘binding, legal cap on migration’, based on the number of work and family visas issued, and which would fall each year.  

The Green Party manifesto outlines several recommendations towards ‘Ending the hostile environment.’ The party states that it would ‘push to dismantle the dysfunctional Home Office’, instead creating a new Department of Migration alongside a Department of Justice to separate the functions of migration and citizenship from the criminal justice system. It would also push to abolish the No Recourse to Public Funds condition, scrap the ten-year route to settlement, and ‘an end to immigration detention for all migrants unless they are a danger to public safety.’   

Both Plaid Cymru and the SNP pledge to abolish the No Recourse to Public Funds restriction, with the former stating that NRPF unnecessarily drives people into poverty. Plaid also urge for Wales to have greater powers over migration, ‘including the ability to determine our own Shortage Occupation List and granting the Welsh Government the ability to manage its own visa schemes.’ 

Like the Greens, the Liberal Democrats also make explicit reference to ending the Conservatives’ ‘Hostile Environment.’ They pledge to repeal ‘Right to Rent’, end the detention of children for immigration purposes, reduce detention for adults ‘to an absolute last resort, with a 28-day time limit’, and implement the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. The Liberal Democrats also support establishing a firewall ‘to prevent public agencies from sharing personal information with the Home Office for the purposes of immigration enforcement’ and support repealing the immigration exemption in the Data Protection Act.  

The Liberal Democrats manifesto also promises to overhaul the Immigration Rules to make them ‘simpler, clearer and fairer’, whilst replacing the salary threshold ‘with a more flexible merit-based system for work visas’ and reversing increases to income thresholds for family visas. Similarly, the Green Party also push for an overall simplification of visa process to ensure that all applications are ‘processed swiftly, and with empathy and intelligence’, only charging visa application fees at cost, removing minimum income requirements from all visa applications, and allowing free access to the NHS for all migrants with visas. 

In contrast, the Conservative Party pledges to ‘increase all visa fees’, ‘remove the student discount to the Immigration Health Surcharge’, and automatically ‘raise the Skilled Worker threshold and Family income requirement’ in line with inflation. 

The Liberal Democrats are the only party to recognise the current shortage of immigration legal advice; their manifesto states that they would ‘expand access to immigration legal advice by making the legal aid system simpler, fairer and more generous.’ 


Any incoming government that is serious about ending homelessness for everyone must ensure that immigration policy doesn’t drive up levels of homelessness, as it is currently doing. To achieve this, they will need to address the harmful, wide-ranging effects of the
hostile environment and policies such as the Illegal Migration Act.

It is therefore encouraging to see several parties, including Labour, commitment to restore the right to seek asylum and scrap the Rwanda policy, and reaffirmed dedication to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

It is also positive to see several party manifestos recognise the need to process claims swiftly and fairly, to address the growing backlog and reduce the time people spend in the asylum system. This is vital in order to address the ever-growing number of people stuck in limbo in asylum system and surviving in poverty, as well as the number of people in inappropriate accommodation such as hotels, which several parties, including Labour, vow to end the use of.

However, we also know that attempts to expedite asylum decision-making, and move people on from asylum accommodation at pace, can have stark impacts on both individuals, and statutory and voluntary services. Any incoming government must take into account these pressures and take the necessary steps to prevent large numbers of people exiting asylum accommodation directly into homelessness. To that end, the Liberal Democrats, acknowledge this need by pushing to extend of the move-on period for newly granted refugees. Any incoming government must consider this recommendation, amongst others, as part of a wider strategy to tackle the immigration-based policies that drive homelessness.

Furthermore, whilst the swift processing of asylum claims is welcomed, the quantity of asylum decision making cannot come at the expense of quality. Currently more than half of negative asylum decisions are overturned at appeal, indicating often-poor quality
initial decision making from the Home Office. Hence, commitments made by several major parties to accelerate removals for failed asylum seekers, raises concern.

Regardless of your view on removals, it is essential that those refused asylum initially have the opportunity for appeals to be compassionately heard. As we highlighted in our ‘Refused’ report this is often not the case, the shortage of immigration advice leaves many people refused asylum unable to lodge appeals, and experiencing prolonged periods of homeless and destitution as a result. Access to justice through legal aid will not be possible if the next government does not take steps necessary to address the shortage of legal aid.

Elsewhere, the omission of the Right to Work for people seeking asylum from the Labour and Conservative manifestos, despite significant benefits and public support for the policy, and its recent recommendation in a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on Poverty and Migration, is disappointing, as is the failure to commit to expanding safe
routes for people seeking asylum.

However, we are pleased to see the Green Party and Liberal Democrats manifestos present ambitious and targeted plans to end the ‘Hostile Environment’; with both parties proposing reforms on detention and advocating for much-needed reductions in visa fees
and the simplification of visa processes. It is also positive to see the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru also call for an end of the harmful No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy and, in the case of the Green Party, the use of lengthy settlement routes, which research shows can cause significant harm for individuals and families for prolonged periods of time.

Policy area: housing and homelessness

In their manifesto, Labour pledges to ‘develop a new cross-government strategy, working with Mayors and Councils across the country, to put Britain back on track to ending homelessness.’ The Liberal Democrats go one step further and commit to ‘ending rough sleeping within the next Parliament’, while developing a cross-government plan to ‘end all forms of homelessness.’  

Having failed to meet the rough sleeping target included in their 2019 manifesto, the Conservatives renew their pledge to end rough sleeping and confirm that they would review the quality of temporary accommodation if elected. They would also legislate the controversial ‘Local Connection’ and ‘UK Connection’ tests for social housing in England (aka.: ‘British Homes for British Workers’).  

The Liberal Democrats, who pledge to ‘increase the ‘move-on’ period for refugees to 60 days, providing vital time for new refugees to prepare for life in the UK’ are the only party to address the link between the asylum and immigration system, and homelessness. Other Liberal Democrats proposals to address homelessness include exempting certain groups of homeless people, and those at risk of homelessness, from the Shared Accommodation Rate; introducing a ‘somewhere safe to stay’ legal duty to ensure that everyone who is at risk of sleeping rough is provided with emergency accommodation; and ensuring sufficient financial resources for local authorities to properly deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act, and provide accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse. 

The SNP are the only party to talk about standards of asylum accommodation, and emphasise that they will urge the UK Government ‘the change their approach to housing asylum seekers, ensuring accommodation is safe, suitable and dignified.’ 

As devolved issues, housing and homelessness also feature prominently in both the Plaid Cymru and SNP manifestos, with bold reforms and commitments on tackling homelessness. Plaid focus on increasing housing stock, Housing First and rapid rehousing, as well as tackling long-term empty properties and ensuring the Local Housing Rate remains at the 30th percentile, whilst the SNP push for ‘an annual uplift of Local Housing Allowance, whilst ensuring rental costs are taken into account.’ 

For Labour, housing is not one of their “five national missions” or the six “first steps for change”.  However, they commit to building 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament, which they claim would ‘deliver the biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation.’ On top of prioritising the building of social rented homes, they also pledge to protect existing social stock, and take measures to ensure new developments provide more affordable homes, including by strengthening planning obligations. 

The Liberal Democrats aim to achieve this by building 380,000 homes a year (equivalent to 1.9 million homes across the five years), of which 150,000 a year are to be ‘social homes.’ The party pledges to give councils power to end ‘right to buy’ in their area. The Greens also commit to creating 150,000 ‘social homes’ a year, ending ‘right to buy’, and propose a ‘Buy the supply’ model to give local authorities, registered social landlords and community housing groups the first option to buy certain properties – such as empty properties – at reasonable rates.  

The Conservatives pledge 1.6 million homes, and pledge to renew the Affordable Homes Programme. However, like Labour, they do not state explicitly how many of those would be social or affordable homes.  

Plaid Cymru pledges a ‘system of fair rents and rent control’ to ensure that the private rental sector remains affordable. 

The SNP mainfesto calls for devolution of ‘Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance which will allow the Scottish Government to take an innovative approach to tackle child poverty, expand the delivery of social housing.’ 

Labour says that it would abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions ‘immediately’ and overhaul the regulation of the private rented sector, including extending Awaab’s Law to the private sector. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens also pledge to ban ‘no fault’ evictions, as do the Conservatives, who commit to passing their Renters Reform Bill.  

The Liberal Democrats also propose to make three-year tenancies the default, create a national register of licensed landlords, and increase protections for social renters. Meanwhile, the Green Party will push to empower local authorities to introduce rent controls. 

It is welcoming to see the Labour Party recognise the need for a new cross-government strategy to end homelessness. If it is to succeed, any such strategy will need to be truly cross-departmental, enveloping the Home Office and other areas of government, and will also need to equip local authorities with the direction, resources, and funding to ensure that anyone who needs support is not turned away from it on the basis of their immigration status.

Crucially, this will mean addressing immigration-based restrictions that currently lock people out of homelessness assistance, with the Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru all pushing to end the harmful NRPF condition in their manifestos.

Ending homelessness will require more affordable housing – whether that is temporary and permanent, or social and private. It is positive to see all of the parties introduce housing targets – including Labour’s target of 1.5 million homes, which Shelter
have described as ’bold and desperately needed’ – but is disappointing that not all have provided social/affordable housing targets.

As outlined in the joint letter to government we signed as part of the #SocialHousingNotScapegoating campaign, any incoming Government must reject narratives that blame migrants for previous governments’ inability to build sufficient
social and affordable housing. Meanwhile, any policies to restrict access to social housing, such as the ‘UK connection test’, must be dropped.

It is also important to remember that commitments on house building are just the start. Making these plans a reality will require long term support from Government, and cooperation from various other actors. In the words of Kate Henderson, Chief
Executive of the National Housing Federation: “The scale of the challenge must not be underestimated.”

Furthermore, immediate action is required to address issues with the quality of affordable housing. Migrant, refugee,and  minority ethnic renters are over-represented in the private rented sector; and the current lack of appropriate, good quality, affordable
housing in this sector is perpetuating vulnerability amongst refugees. Refugees are not only more likely to be in housing that is in poor condition and insecure, but they are also liable to be exploited, and often face discrimination when looking for housing.

It is very positive to see cross-party appetite for greater regulation of private sector housing, to ensure adherence to and enforcement of minimum housing standards. However, safe and adequate housing is a right, not a privilege, and this must be extended to asylum
accommodation as well.