On March 20th 2020 we and over fifty other organisations wrote to the local authorities asking for urgent steps be taken to protect and support vulnerable migrants, particularly those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In our follow-up letter on 14 April 2020, we shared our concerns that many vulnerable migrants were still not receiving the basic assistance they need during this crisis.
Among the issues that have been reported to us are:
- Local authorities offering hotel accommodation only to ‘verified’ rough sleepers, with the result that many migrant homeless people (e.g. DV survivors, those who squat or sleep on buses) are being excluded from provision
- Housing officers telling destitute migrants that accommodation ‘can only be provided to people with recourse to public funds’
- Homeless migrants being placed in hotels far from their networks, with no/inadequate provision being made for their subsistence
- Homeless migrants being placed in hotels but given no contact details for key workers/housing officers.
- Migrant rough sleepers being asked to share rooms and even beds
- Increased ‘gatekeeping’ of support provided to destitute migrant families under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989
- Threats of data-sharing by local authorities with the Home Office
We urged them to adopt the measures called for in our letter of 20th March 2020, and to take a number of additional steps in response to the practical issues reported by frontline organisations across the country.