26 August, 2020 Open access
26 August, 2020 Open access
Deputy Minister says that an explicit 'exit' plan is needed to support people beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
The Welsh Government is to adopt the recommendations of a feasibility study to provide key elements of an ‘exit’ strategy' to support those who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) who have been brought into emergency accommodation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a written statement today, Deputy Minister Jane Hutt confirms the publication of the findings of a feasibility study that was commissioned by the Welsh Government to look at what could be achieved within its devolved powers to identify sustainable outcomes for people who have been refused asylum but are unable to secure refugee status or return to their country of origin.
Highlighting that the feasibility study makes nine recommendations for the Welsh Government and partners to take forward - with the aim of increasing the supply of informal ‘hosting’ arrangements, coupled with legal advice and appropriate safeguarding arrangements; promoting the Nation of Sanctuary concept across housing and homelessness sectors; increasing the accessibility of emergency accommodation options; and seeking to influence Home Office policy to prevent the most harmful outcomes for individuals - the Deputy Minister says that -
'We intend to implement each of these recommendations, to continue our work towards becoming a Nation of Sanctuary.'
In addition, in relation to those with no recourse to public funds, the Deputy Minister says -
'Since the feasibility study was commissioned, the plight of those who have NRPF - including refused asylum seekers - has been further highlighted during the current Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic we have encouraged local authorities to provide accommodation to anyone who needs it, regardless of their immigration status. This is not only a moral solution - it makes good public health sense. As Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted, there will be a continued need to provide this type of support as homeless individuals will not be able to self-isolate without accommodation. Nevertheless, UK Government Immigration Rules mean that this type of accommodation cannot be offered in the long-term.
The adoption of the feasibility study recommendations will provide a key element of an ‘exit’ strategy to support those who have NRPF who have been brought into emergency accommodation. As the UK Government position remains unchanged, these individuals will not be able to access permanent housing until their immigration status is secured. An explicit ‘exit’ plan is therefore needed to support these individuals beyond the pandemic and the recommendations in the feasibility study provide part of such a plan.
The feasibility study recommends that we develop accessibility to emergency accommodation options and referral routes to support pathways out of destitution. We will shortly commission guidance to improve local authority understanding of the eligibility of those with NRPF to access services and what support can be offered.'
For more information, see Written Statement: Support for those with No Recourse to Public Funds from gov.wales