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Homeless Link has joined 53 charities in signing an open letter to the Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove. The letter, coordinated by NACCOM, expressed deep concerns about the impact of the Government's Illegal Migration Bill on homelessness and destution in the UK. The full text and signatories list is below:

Dear Secretary of State,

We write as organisations and charities, many of us frontline, that support and advocate for people experiencing, and at risk of, homelessness and destitution.

We are profoundly concerned by the proposals laid out in the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill

If passed in its current form, the Bill could see as many as 190,000 people, including some 45,000 children, have their claim to asylum deemed inadmissible over the next three years if they arrive by routes deemed irregular by Government. With no realistic prospect of a return to their country of origin, or a safe third country, the Bill would effectively lock those whose asylum claims are deemed inadmissible out of society, leaving them to face an indefinite period of extreme hardship and poverty, unable to work and vulnerable to exploitation. The inevitable outcome for many would be homelessness and destitution.

Impact on homelessness and destitution

You will know from your department’s work that homelessness and destitution have no place in a society that is fair, just and equitable, and wishes to thrive. Learning and evidence from frontline services, borne out by the successes of Everyone In, shows that enabling someone to resolve their immigration status is an important part of unlocking pathways out of homelessness. However, the Illegal Migration Bill will condemn thousands of people to live in limbo due to their immigration status, with no pathway to move forward and rebuild their lives.

As well as the significant risk of harm this deliberately punitive immigration policy presents to individuals, it will have a profound impact on communities in the UK, and will clearly undermine the Government’s manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping in England by 2024.

We know, as frontline practitioners, that unless all the complex and wide-ranging drivers of homelessness in migrant communities are tackled head-on, any strategy to end rough sleeping will fail. Alarmingly, the Illegal Migration Bill looks set to create an entirely new homeless and precariously-housed population, increasing the likelihood of people rough sleeping on our streets and in our communities. 

Impact on individuals, communities and support providers

As support providers, we are also deeply concerned about the impact the Bill will have on individuals’ mental and physical wellbeing, and the additional burden it will place on already over-stretched voluntary sector and statutory support services, who provide a vital lifeline to those who have restricted or no eligibility to public funds due to their immigration status.

Giving people a chance of protection in the UK provides them the opportunity to rebuild their lives after traumatic journeys, as well as to ultimately unlock their potential, with positive outcomes for integration into local communities, as well as health and wellbeing. By withholding this right, the Illegal Migration Bill will create an additional, unsustainable demand on statutory and non-statutory support services – not only by failing to address existing support needs and vulnerabilities, but by creating additional ones.  

The Bill does not address many issues with the existing asylum support system, which include poor quality accommodation and financial support that trap people below the poverty line. Instead, the new legislation would exacerbate these problems, making a system that is worse for all, whilst adding significant new pressures to the voluntary and statutory sector.  

We urge the Government to withdraw the Bill, in light of the significant risks of destitution and homelessness and the harm this presents to individuals and communities around the UK. 

To discuss these matters further, please contact Bridget Young, NACCOM Director – bridget@naccom.org.uk. 

Yours faithfully,

Bridget Young – Director, NACCOM 

Abi Brunswick – Director, Project 17 

Aderonke Apata – Trustee, Museum of Homelessness 

Aderonke Apata – Founder and CEO, African Rainbow Family 

Andrew Owen, Jane Cronin, and Christine Owen – Volunteers, Whispers of Hope 

Anna Lewis – CEO, Open Door North East 

Ashley Horsey – Chief Executive, Commonweal Housing 

Becky Hellewell – Head of Support and Immigration, St. Augustine’s Centre 

Dr. Chris Wooff – Joint Leader, ACAP (Ashton Churches Asylum Project) 

Dave Smith – Coordinator, Refugee Resource Centre for Churches 

Denise McDowell – CEO, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit 

Duncan Shrubsole – Director of Policy, Communications and Research, Lloyds Bank Foundation  

Ellen Ayres – Senior Project Support Worker, Abigail Housing 

Emily Crowley – Chief Executive, Student Action for Refugees 

Emma Haddad – CEO, St Mungo’s 

Ewan Roberts – Centre Manager, Asylum Link Merseyside 

George Dunstall – CEO, All People All Places 

Jared Hodgson – CEO, Hope at Home 

Jo Cobley – Chief Executive, Young Roots 

Jon Beech – Director, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network 

Joseph Goulding – Head of Governance, Big Help Project 

Karen Downing – CEO, Women’s Health Information and Support Centre 

Karen Pearse – Director, Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers 

Kat Lorenz – Director, Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP 

Kathy Mohan, OBE, Chief Executive, Housing Justice 

Lisa Norcross – Project and Fundraising Manager, Kairos Housing 

Mark Goldring – Director, Asylum Welcome 

Matt Downie MBE – Chief Executive, Crisis 

Mel Steel – Director, Voices in Exile 

Merfat Musleh – HBA and HP Team Coordinator, Savera UK 

Miranda Reilly – Director, AVID 

Natalie Williams – Chief Executive, Jubilee+ 

Nathan D Ndlovu – Chairman, CARAG 

Nicolle Levine – Chair, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network (LASSN) 

Osama Bhutta – Director of Campaigns, Policy and Communications, Shelter 

Paul Hook – Director, Asylum Matters 

Pauline Mary Ruth – Chair of Trustees, Trinity Safe Space Charity 

Richard Priestley – Trustee, New Neighbours Together 

Rick Henderson – CEO, Homeless Link 

Ros Holland – Chief Executive, Boaz Trust 

Rowena Serrano – Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA), Local Solutions 

Sadia Sikandar – Activist / Campaigner / Advisory Panel, West End Refugee Services 

Sally Daghlian OBE – CEO, Praxis 

Salma Ravat – CEO, One Roof Leicester 

Sarah Teather – Director, Jesuit Refugee Service UK 

Seána Roberts – Administrator, Liverpool City of Sanctuary 

Seána Roberts – Manager, Merseyside Refugee Support Network 

Sebastian Rocca – Founder and CEO, Micro Rainbow 

Shereen Cowley – LGBTQIA+ Refugee and Asylum Support Lead, Sahir House 

Simon Petty – Volunteer, Care4Calais Liverpool 

Stanford Biti – CEO, CAST Communities and Sanctuary Seekers Together 

Susan Cawley – Chair of Trustees, Hope for Southall Street Homeless 

Ted Britton – Chair of Trustee, West Yorkshire Destitute Asylum Network (WYDAN) 

Tim Naor Hilton – Chief Executive, Refugee Action 

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Nye Jones

Campaigns Manager

Nye is Campaigns Manager at Homeless Link