The immigration system before COVID-19 was intentionally dysfunctional, deliberately placing people in positions of extreme vulnerability. People have been left in danger, without access to healthcare or housing and unable to follow the basic government guidelines to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Alongside other organisations in the sector, NACCOM has been campaigning for some key policy changes in order to protect and support people with insecure migration status, those seeking asylum and refugees experiencing homelessness and destitution during the pandemic.
Here are the key policy changes that must be urgently implemented;Access to accommodation and support
Regardless of immigration status, everyone should be able to easily access emergency self-contained accommodation and subsistence funds during the pandemic. This support needs to be immediately available to everyone to protect public health.
To achieve this, the Home Office needs to recognise the immediate vulnerability of everyone applying for asylum support. NACCOM is advocating that all applications for Home Office support are granted automatically and that no decision that someone is not entitled to support should be actioned until after the pandemic period is over. In order to relieve pressure on Local Authorities and to prevent unnecessary movement, Section 4 support should be available with a subsistence only option.
People with NRPF who are street homeless (including those who are ‘sofa surfing’) should be able to access Local Authority emergency accommodation.Continued provision of accommodation and support during the pandemic period
All evictions from asylum accommodation have been suspended until the end of June and emergency rough sleeper provision from Local Authorities should be available to people who are NRPF.
NACCOM’s policy work will support people in accommodation who do not currently have access to statutory subsistence funds. We will also work to prevent a ‘cliff-edge’ of simultaneous evictions in June/July 2020, placing immense pressure on local statutory and voluntary services.
We will monitor the number of people who are in asylum accommodation who would otherwise have been evicted and we will work on legal and advocacy routes to ensure that people who have gained refugee status receive end-to-end transition from asylum support to Universal Credit.Preparation for the end of the crisis period – no one should return to street homelessness
NACCOM is arguing for the permanent removal of NRPF conditions for everyone, regardless of immigration status, and an end to the hostile environment.
Additionally, leave to remain (LTR) should be available to all people who have had asylum claims refused and everyone who does not have regularised immigration status. This LTR would give people the right to work, access healthcare and public funds for at least 30 months.
NACCOM has written to the Government twice highlighting our concerns and requesting urgent action be taken.READ OUR LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER (19TH MARCH) READ OUR SECOND LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER (7TH APRIL)
You can read the responses we’ve received below;
- Response from the Prime Minister
- Response from the Scottish Government
- Response from the Welsh Government
- Minimum standard for all emergency accommodation.
- Raising the asylum support rates.
- Removal/reduction of LTR fees.
- Access to justice.
- Housing First for all who are homeless.