More than 30 charities and leading academics in Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government and local councils, are calling for major funders to step forward ahead of the winter months to fund a step-change in the way we support people seeking sanctuary in Scotland.
The partnership, titled Fair Way Scotland, has published a landmark report today setting out proposals to counteract UK Government policy that leaves many people seeking sanctuary in Scotland unable to access most benefits due to their immigration status under ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) conditions.
The report, produced with input from people with personal experience of the asylum and immigration system, claims NRPF conditions amount to ‘destitution by design’ undermining Scotland’s human rights ambitions and providing an urgent example of where human rights are being breached. Included is an outline of a service response that joins up temporary accommodation with personal and emotional support, legal casework and general advice and advocacy. The initiative seeks to create a co-ordinated gateway to a safe destination.
Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive of Homeless Network Scotland, says:
“Fair Way Scotland counteracts UK policy that leaves people with no support who are seeking sanctuary in Scotland. This is destitution by design, affecting people who continue to make their case to stay here because it is better than the alternative.
“It means a safe place to stay with one-to-one support and legal advice so that people are not living in fear and destitution. It means a safe gateway to a settled destination until that destination is settled, whether this is Scotland or another place.
“A strategic funding partnership is now needed to bring about this step-change in how Scotland ends destitution and protects people’s human rights – a partnership of charitable foundations, businesses and donors – and the public sector in Scotland too. Working together, we can end destitution in Scotland.”
The report is Action 3 of the Scottish Government and COSLA Ending Destitution Together Strategy published in March 2021. It sets out the national approach to mitigating and preventing destitution and protecting the human rights of people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) in Scotland.
Sabir Zazai, Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said:
“It’s not the job of one individual or organisation to make life better for people who are fleeing dreadful conflict, human rights violations and persecution. It takes a lot of time, effort, creativity and innovation for many different partners to work together and make the offer as welcoming and warm as possible.
“I’m really proud of the work in this area, particularly the collaboration during a very difficult time recently. It needs a swift investment from charity funders because we cannot wait too long for this to be implemented. We need action and investment in Fair Way Scotland, which can demonstrate a different, better and credible approach.
“Work still needs to happen including resourcing. In this really critical time Scotland needs to maintain its long-standing legacy of reaching out to people seeking protection.”
Maggie Brunjes added:
“When the Scottish Government and local councils in Scotland had the opportunity to provide services and accommodation for everyone during the pandemic using public health legislation, they all took it. We applaud that life-saving intervention and recognise that individuals and organisations want to help find a fair way forward. To start with, securing backing from charitable foundations is key. We want to invite a strategic funding and learning partnership to test this approach in Scotland and how it might be replicated in other cities or countries.”