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6 November, 2020 Open access

Homelessness support and advice organisation urge government to reconsider new immigration rules targeting people sleeping rough for deportation

Letter to Home Secretary and Housing Secretary urges them to adopt the positive approach of the Everyone In scheme as we enter the second wave of coronavirus

More than seventy homelessness organisations, including Crisis, Shelter, St Mungo’s and Homeless Link, have signed a letter urging the government to reconsider new immigration rules that target rough sleepers for deportation.

Following the publication of updated Immigration Rules on 22 October 2020 - that include new discretionary grounds for refusal of permission to stay, or cancellation in-country of permission for those in the UK for a temporary purpose, on the basis of rough sleeping - the letter to the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick warns that -

‘The new rules will punish people for being homeless and take them further away from seeking support if they feel it would risk deportation. Those legally in the UK with no access to state support, and for whom employment is not possible during the pandemic, risk being pushed into exploitative work and potentially modern slavery to avoid sleeping rough and putting themselves at risk of deportation. It may also risk domestic abuse survivors being forced to stay with their perpetrators or unable to seek help.’

Highlighting that governments across Great Britain made the decision to provide support for all people sleeping rough through the Everyone In scheme and equivalents in Wales and Scotland when the pandemic first hit in March, the signatories say -

‘We must see this positive approach apply to everyone as we enter a second wave of coronavirus with the additional risks associated with cold weather over winter.

We urge you to immediately reconsider these changes to the Immigration Rules so that rough sleeping does not become grounds for refusal or cancellation of permission to be in the UK. We are ready to work with you to implement positive approaches to supporting people out of homelessness for good.'

In addition, to further support people with limited leave under the Immigration Rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter calls for a temporary suspension of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ condition and the habitual residence test for 12 months so that people with leave to remain in the UK can access support such as universal credit and statutory homelessness assistance in order to avoid eviction and homelessness while unable to work.

For more information, see Over seventy homelessness organisations sign letter urging government to reconsider dangerous new immigration rules targeting people sleeping rough for deportation from the Crisis website.