Redbridge Council is calling on the Government to ‘end rough sleeping for good’ and to scrap immigration rules that makes rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling a person’s leave to remain in the UK.
Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Rough sleepers already face unimaginable obstacles, and these hardships are magnified for those who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) under the government’s immigration rules.
“As a local authority our hands are tied when it comes to helping those individuals who find themselves sleeping rough if their immigration status is unclear, or if they no longer have a visa to stay in the UK.”
On April 1, new immigration rules come into force which, according to Redbridge Council, will very likely set progress back on helping rough sleepers. The new rules state that local authorities will have to hand details of those individuals with no recourse to public funds over. There is real concern that many people facing homelessness will avoid accessing essential support services altogether for fear that their details will be passed to immigration agencies.
Cllr Athwal added: “In order to end rough sleeping, people experiencing homelessness must be able to confidently approach local services provided by Redbridge council, our partners such as the NHS and the wide range of excellent voluntary sector support on offer in our borough.
“This council has worked tirelessly to reduce the number of people rough sleeping in Redbridge and to support those sleeping out in the cold, into accommodation. But the government’s new rules will almost certainly scare rough sleepers whose immigration status is unclear or has run out into avoiding all the support services that are available to them to escape being detained by immigration services, which may instead keep them trapped in a life on the streets. It doesn’t have to be this way – but the government needs to act now and reverse its inhumane changes to the immigration rules.”
Cllr Athwal highlighted Redbridge Council’s achievements in bringing rough sleepers indoors and protecting them from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
He said: “Redbridge Council has gone above and beyond to support our communities and help keep them safe throughout the pandemic, and our work with rough sleepers has been at the heart of this programme. Since March 2020 until now, we have supported 389 Redbridge rough sleepers into accommodation making sure that they have access to a range of critical support. “
Redbridge Council pledges to:
- commit to ending rough sleeping in Redbridge
- seek a partnership with Government to solve rough sleeping based on our five key asks including reducing the amount of time taken to resolve immigration cases
- make no direct referrals under the rough sleeping immigration rules
- not require any of our commissioned partners to make referrals or pass data to the Home Office under the immigration rules.
- only share information and data with the Home Office with the explicit and informed consent of the individual concerned