Recent changes to the Immigration Rules for people sleeping rough will make it even harder for people to get the support they need to find a safe home.
As we come out of lockdown, many people, including those who have lived and worked in the UK for many years and those who remain stuck in emergency accommodation in England, face being forced to return to rough sleeping because their immigration status means they are excluded from vital support that would help them to move out of homelessness.
We fear that these new rules make rough sleeping grounds for cancelling or refusing someone’s permission to remain in the UK. Although the rules will only be used when someone has refused offers of support and is engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour, we remain gravely concerned that rough sleepers are at a higher risk of criminal charges because of a desperate need to survive. Senior Policy Officer at Crisis, Ruth Jacob, shared that
“we helped a man who was left crying because he was nearly arrested for salvaging some scrap cardboard outside a shop to have something to sleep on. The only reason the charges were dropped was because the shop didn’t want to press charges.”
This policy will put many people at risk of exploitative work, unsafe accommodation, and potentially modern slavery, to avoid sleeping rough and putting themselves at threat of removal from the country.
Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes said of the policy
“It is inhumane, and its mere existence will make non-UK nationals in vulnerable circumstances fearful of asking for the support they need to help them off the streets. To be clear, we do not accept this policy and urge authorities not to use these powers in any circumstances.”
EU citizens living in the UK also face losing their permission to live and work here if they haven’t successfully applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June deadline.
What is Crisis doing to help?
Working together with our supporters, Skylight services and Crisis staff offer support to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness based on need alone. For non-UK nationals who are locked out of state support, this often means help with overcoming the barriers to moving back into work, such as helping people gain qualifications or providing tailored English classes focused on working in different industries. For others, the key to moving out of homelessness will be access to independent immigration advice to help them resolve issues with their status.
Through our grant programmes we’ve also provided funding for organisations working with refugees and homeless non-UK nationals, to ensure they’ve been able to continue to offer specialist advice, accommodation and support throughout the pandemic.
But it remains incredibly challenging to help non-UK nationals who are locked out of state support to move on from homelessness for good.
We’re campaigning for the policy changes needed to make sure everyone living in the UK has a safe and secure home, regardless of where they were born. We’re also undertaking research to provide evidence about what’s causing non-UK nationals to become homeless, so we know what needs to change to prevent it from happening in the first place.
We urgently need to see a clear, national strategy from the Government to end rough sleeping and homelessness for good. This must include providing people with no recourse to public funds with a safe place to stay, alongside wraparound support including immigration advice and employment support, so they can leave homelessness behind for good.
We need your help to make this happen.
Help us to support these individuals through their complex needs by signing up to be a Crisis Campaigner or speak to your Crisis contact for updates on our work with non-UK nationals at risk of homelessness.