NACCOM has joined with leading homelessness and migrants rights organisations on a campaign led by our members Praxis to highlight the dangers posed by Clause 11 of the Government’s new Nationality and Borders Bill.
In a joint letter to ministers sent as MPs prepared to consider the Bill again on Tuesday 22nd March in the House of Commons, the charities called for an urgent rethink, warning that Clause 11 risks pushing thousands more people fleeing conflict and persecution into poverty, destitution and homelessness every year.
Sadly the amendment to remove Clause 11 from the Bill was defeated, however it will soon return to the the House of Lords again in a process known as ping-pong.
Why should we be concerned about Clause 11?
Clause 11 would create a second class of refugees who would be penalized because of the way they travelled to the UK. It would extend the use of the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) policy to anyone who travels independently to the UK in search of safety, denying them access to a safety net. 
The group of organisations point to strong evidence that this will expose an additional 3,100 people to risk of destitution and homelessness every year. This will add to the thousands of people already experiencing these problems every year.
Applying these conditions to refugees, many of whom have experienced trauma and may have particular mental and physical health care needs, is particularly harmful, and exposes them to additional risks of modern slavery and exploitation.
Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz, Praxis’ Policy and Public Affairs Manager, had this to say:
“The war in Ukraine vividly reminds us that people fleeing conflict can’t wait weeks for new visa schemes to be set up. Everyone in this situation has a right to long-term safety, and the UK approach to immigration and asylum should reflect its proud history of welcome – instead of pushing yet more people into destitution.
The situation in Ukraine highlights the need for a compassionate response when people are fleeing violence that does not create extra bureaucracy and restrictions, which make it harder for people to move forward with their lives.”
Bridget Young, Director of NACCOM, had this to say:
“In the NACCOM network alone we see around 3,000 people each year who experience destitution and homelessness because their immigration status prevents them from accessing the right support and public funds. We need an asylum and immigration system that is fair and humane and would prevent people from falling into destitution in the first place. Clause 11 of the Nationality and Borders Bill would do the opposite by pushing more refugees into poverty and homelessness, which is why we are joining with so many other organisations to call for it to be scrapped.
Matt Downie, Chief Executive at Crisis, said:
“People fleeing conflict are seeking safety and shouldn’t ever be left at risk of homelessness because they’re prevented from accessing the support they need. Without a proper safety net such as having a safe and secure place to live, people dealing with the horrific traumas of war will be at risk of being forced into homelessness and exposed to the risk of modern slavery and exploitation. This goes against the Government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping and must be addressed through the upcoming bill to ensure even more people are not left paying the devastating human cost of these policies.”
In turn, the charities are also urging MPs to support Lords amendment 28 to remove Clause 11 from the Bill, and amendment 30 to give individuals seeking asylum the right to work if their claim has not been processed after 6 months.
What can you do:
- You can access the joint MP briefing here and share with your MP
- Read the ministerial letter here
- Sign this petition to remove Clause 11 from the Nationality and Borders Bill
- Sign this petition to remove Clause 11 from the Nationality and Borders Bill and create a global resettlement programme to help bring a minimum of 10,000 refugees to safety in the UK every year.