Many organisations and local authorities across the UK have voiced serious concern over a new Home Office policy affecting migrants that makes rough sleeping grounds for removal for non-UK nationals, providing the Home Office with the discretion to cancel of refuse a person’s leave to remain if they are found to be rough sleeping.
The new policy came into force on the 1st of December however the Home Office is yet to publish guidance on how the policy should be implemented by local authorities.
Many migrants are affected by No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions, as part of their leave to remain or visa conditions, or due to their status in the asylum system, meaning they cannot legally access social security or access homelessness services when they fall on tough times. Those seeking asylum in the UK are also not permitted to work, cutting off another route out of destitution. Many fear that the new policy will drive those with NRPF into dangerous or exploitative situations to avoid risking their leave to remain as people may be fearful to access outreach services and routes out of rough sleeping at the risk of deportation.
It is estimated that 300-500 people in Scotland with NRPF experience destitution at any one time who may be affected by this policy change and find their leave to remain at risk due to a lack of resources as a result of Home Office policy. Homeless Network Scotland joined as a signatory on a joint letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel MP and Secretary of State Robert Jenrick MP to bring attention to the concerns of many migrant and homelessness organisations across the UK. The full letter can be found here. A response to the letter was received on 14 December 2020, notably confirming that the new rules will not come into effect until new guidance is published. The response can be found here.
Homeless Network Scotland are working with the Everyone Home Collective to develop a 5 year strategy for Scotland to support people with NRPF to access accommodation, legal advice, advocacy and practical assistance in line with the route map outlining how to create a society where we prevent destitution amongst people with NRPF and protect human rights. The full route map can be found here.