Today with the Public Interest Law Centre, we wrote to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP to express concerns that not enough is being done by MHCLG to ensure that all homeless people, regardless of immigration status, can access the accommodation and support they need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In our letter, we have asked MHCLG to:
1.Issue detailed formal guidance to local authorities in accordance with s.182 of the Housing Act 1996 around the provision of accommodation and support to people with no recourse to public funds during the Covid-19 pandemic. This guidance should make clear that:
-All local authorities must provide accommodation to all homeless people who approach them during the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of immigration status or whether they are ‘verified’ rough sleepers. Standard legal tests for the provision of statutory support (proof of homelessness, eligibility, priority need, intentionality, local connection) are to be disregarded by all frontline staff, including housing officers, social services departments and commissioned service providers;
-Local authorities must maintain clear and accessible pathways for access to support for all vulnerable migrants
-Local authorities must ensure that all homeless people accommodated through the pandemic response are able to meet their basic needs for food, hygiene and travel (where appropriate e.g. for medical reasons). In terms of food provision, this means ensuring the provision, without charge, of three adequate meals a day that meet the dietary requirements of those accommodated. All basic-needs provision must be made regardless of immigration status;
-The personal data of homeless people accommodated or supported through the pandemic response must not be shared with the Home Office or any other government body for immigration-enforcement purposes;
-Local authorities must not withdraw the provision of accommodation to migrants with NRPF once lockdown restrictions are removed/eased unless and until alternative sources of support and accommodation have been secured; nobody must be forced to return to destitution.
2. Make specific, ring-fenced funding available to all local authorities to cover the actual cost of supporting people with NRPF through this crisis; and
3. Instruct, and fully fund, local authorities to continue to accommodate and meet the subsistence needs of all migrants with NRPF after the ‘lockdown’ ends, pending the urgent abolition of the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) regime.
Read the full letter here: Letter regarding supporting homeless migrants- Covid-19 6 May 2020