The immigration system before COVID-19 was intentionally dysfunctional, deliberately placing people in positions of extreme vulnerability. The impact of this dysfunctional system is that we are now unprepared to face the huge challenges that COVID-19 brings and that people subject to immigration control are being left in danger, without access to healthcare or housing and unable to follow the basic government guidelines to protect themselves from COVID-19.
To effectively combat the spread of Covid-19, it’s critical that every member of society can access accommodation, healthcare and basic provisions without fear of immigration enforcement. The emergency public health measures put in place by the Government to deal with this unprecedented crisis will not work unless they apply to every single person living in our communities. This is for the benefit of all, and we’re calling on the Government to make these crucial changes to ensure that everyone’s health is protected at this very challenging time, with no exceptions.
[box] Access to accommodation and support[/box]
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.
[box] Continued provision of accommodation and support during the pandemic period [/box]
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.
NACCOMs 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 have otherwise been evicted and we 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.
[box] Preparation for the end of the crisis period – no one should return to street homelessness [/box]
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 do not have regularised immigration status. This LTR would give people the right to work, access healthcare and public funds for at least 30 months.
Policy campaigning NACCOM supports but will not be focusing on
➡️ 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.