This week sees the second reading in Parliament of the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, as well as the lifting of the temporary ban on evictions from asylum accommodation for people refused asylum in the UK. Bridget Young, NACCOM’s Director, comments on the Government’s increasingly hostile stance towards people seeking safety:

 

 

“Today [19th July], Parliament debates the Nationality and Borders Bill – legislation that will further erode the rights, dignity and safety of refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK, and which represents a direct and dangerous challenge to the very principle of asylum.  

At the same time, the first of several thousand people already in the UK asylum system will be notified that their support is being withdrawn due to the lifting of Covid restrictions, requiring them to leave their asylum accommodation and pushing them into homelessness and destitution even as we see Covid-19 cases in the UK continue to rise.  

The No Accommodation Network – 140 UK-wide organisations advocating for and supporting people whose lives have been directly and disastrously impacted by decades of hostile immigration legislation – stands together against the Government’s inhumane anti-refugee Bill, and condemns their increasingly hostile actions towards people who need our compassion and support. 

Those fleeing violence, war and persecution have a legal right to seek protection here; this is a precious commitment that the UK has honoured for 70 years, and which our current Government appears determined to undermine. 

This damaging new Bill will create a two-tier system for people seeking asylum, wherein the merits of their claim are conditional on the journeys they have no choice but to make, will further curtail access to justice, and will condemn people to live in limbo under grants of temporary protection, with the constant threat of removal preventing them from rebuilding their lives or ever feeling safe. 

The people supported by our members know only too well the devastating, life-long impact that hostile immigration policies can have. Our colleague Sam recently shared her experience:  

For me, experiencing [asylum] destitution especially has been really humiliating. I was left without financial support in a new city that I was displaced to. I did not know anybody and I was left without financial support…I had to beg strangers for coins so that I could buy a packet of sanitary towels. Women become vulnerable and they are at risk of exploitation but also sexual abuse. I have seen women suffer a lot [during the asylum process].”

This callous treatment of people in need of protection, and the Government’s terrible track-record with compassionate decision-making on asylum issues over the years, is being acutely felt in communities across the UK today. 

We know that in the coming weeks, thousands of people in asylum accommodation will have to deal with the stress, fear and uncertainty that the lifting of the temporary ban on evictions will cause. People seeking asylum who remain in the UK, but who no longer qualify for asylum support, could face rough sleeping, starvation, and exploitation.  

As a network of frontline organisations, we recognise the lengths that communities up and down the country have gone to during the pandemic, and long before, to reject these hostile policies, and instead come together to stand with people experiencing destitution. And we hear time and time again of the positive, life-changing impact of having a home. 

The Government repeatedly states that it wants a fair asylum system; but a system that effectively criminalises people in need of protection, takes away their personal agency, and leaves them without a safety net, can never be fair.”

 

 

Nationality and Borders Bill: 

NACCOM is particularly concerned about the following areas of the Nationality and Borders Bill that will increase injustice and inequality, whilst doing nothing to improve the situation for people already left destitute because of Government restrictions;

  • Plans to differentiate between people’s asylum claims based on how they arrived in the UK – creating a two tier system of support that leaves people in limbo with no guarantee of safety 
  • Plans to introduce a ‘one stop process’ for applications – meaning that evidence will be treated differently depending on when it is submitted.  
  • Plans to reducpeople’s rights to appeal negative decisions as well as limit legal advice and speed up removals – limiting people’s ability to fight for justice and eroding their right to remain in the UK to seek protection. 

What actions can you take; 

The Nationality and Borders Bill will have its second reading in Parliament on Monday 19th July and Tuesday 20th July. NACCOM is a member of the Together with Refugees coalition, which is leading a coordinated response against the Bill as it passes through the various stages of Parliament.   

➡️ Key action: We recommend joining the Together with Refugees coalition to get involved in specific campaign actions, and to access the latest resources, briefings and updates surrounding the Bill as it moves through Parliament.

>>> FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE TOGETHER WITH REFUGEES COALITION <<<

 

 

 

Evictions from asylum accommodation:

On Friday 16th July, Local Authorities were notified by the Minister for Future Borders and Immigration that the Home Office would once again begin to review and process cases for possible cessation of support for people refused asylum (those currently supported under sections 95 and 4(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (the 1999 Act)).  

Despite High Court legal action and pressure from people with lived experienceLocal AuthoritiesMetro Mayorsparliamentariansfaith groups and charities, the temporary pause on evictions from accommodation for people with a negative asylum decision (in place since March 2020) is now being lifted. The immediate consequence is fear and confusion for thousands of people likely to be forced into homelessness, as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across the country. Those who remain in the UK, but who no longer qualify for asylum support, could face rough sleeping, starvation, and exploitation.  

DOWNLOAD THE FULL BRIEFING HERE

 

Our key recommendations:  

➡️ To the Home Office: 

  • Commit to ending the Hostile Environment by scrapping all policies which punish people seeking safety, including No Recourse to Public Funds, eviction into homelessness from asylum accommodation, and the recently introduced rough sleeping rule changes. 
  • Ahead of any changes in legislation, commit to meaningfully consult people living under immigration control to assess the impact of changes to policy with the aim to prevent harm and reduce destitution. 
  • Ensure safeguards throughout the asylum process that guarantee people somewhere safe to live, in communities where they can access free, independent legal advice, healthcare and support networks. 
  • Publish the Equality Impact Assessment of the policy regarding asylum evictions and conduct an evidence review of the health impacts on people who do not leave the UK after being issued with an eviction notice. 

➡️ To the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG):

  • Provide adequate funding and clear guidance for Local Authorities to support anyone at risk of homelessness, regardless of their immigration status. 
  • Learn from changes introduced during the pandemic and develop a UK wide rough sleeping prevention strategy that supports, and does not exclude, people under immigration control. 

➡️ To Local Authorities: 

  • Support the Together with Refugees coalition. 
  • Support Homeless Link’s #SupportDon’tDeport campaign and City of Sanctuary’s Local Authority Network 
  • Advocate for more and better support for people at the end of the asylum process, including families, to prevent destitution. 
  • Engage with voluntary sector organisations and people with lived experience of destitution to learn from changes introduced during the pandemic and build learning from this process into local strategies to prevent destitution. 

➡️ To Members of Parliament: 

  • Support the Together with Refugees coalition.  
  • Stand against the implementation of legislation and policies that punish people seeking safety. 
  • Advocate for more and better support for people at the end of the asylum process, including families, to prevent destitution. 

What action can you take 

Encourage your MP to stand together with us for a future in which everyone feels safe, by writing to them to raise your concernabout the Government’s plans to change provision for people within the immigration system.

>>> DOWNLOAD OUR LETTER TEMPLATE TO SEND TO YOUR MP <<<