A general election has been called for July 4th, and the issue of immigration, refugee protection and asylum system reform will be key to any incoming government. Bridget Young, NACCOM’s Director, lays out what policy-makers need to prioritise in order to end destitution and homelessness in the asylum and immigration system.

“The next government must make an urgent commitment to repeal the Illegal Migration Act and the Safety of Rwanda Act, which are causing significant fear and hardship in refugee communities, driving people to disengage with essential support services and making them more vulnerable to homelessness and destitution.

Whilst restoring and respecting the right to claim asylum in the UK is vital, it’s by no means the only important reform to the asylum and immigration system needed to ensure that people can live in safety and dignity in their communities. As well as safe routes, we need the next government to create an asylum and immigration system that treats people fairly, by giving them access to justice through legal advice and processing claims in a timely and orderly way, and providing decent, appropriate not-for-profit housing, as well as abolishing cruel policies like NRPF. This can only happen if policy-makers wake up to the interconnectedness of asylum, immigration, homelessness, poverty and housing, and understand that we will never see an end to homelessness until the hostile environment is dismantled.

With a new government also comes a chance to forge new, productive relationships with the voluntary and public sector, and those with lived experience, who stand ready to collaborate and provide evidence-based solutions that benefit and strengthen communities, rather than divide and weaken them. Building more social housing; extending the move-on period for people leaving asylum accommodation; giving people in the asylum system the right to work – these are all meaningful, workable and achievable solutions that would have a real and lasting impact, and reduce rates of homelessness.

Finally, we must see an end to the hateful rhetoric that frames the current debate around immigration and refugee protection. Whatever our differences, scapegoating and demonising migrants should not be an approach taken by any government.”