Today, Homeless Link is pleased to launch a new report in partnership with NACCOM – The No Accommodation Network: Unlocking the door: A roadmap for supporting non-UK nationals facing homelessness in England.
Meaningful solutions to homelessness for people facing immigration-based restrictions on public funds have long felt like missing pieces of the puzzle in national plans to end rough sleeping.
Policy choices that allow immigration control to overshadow and undermine good social policy have compounded this, making it even harder for local homelessness systems to deliver the change we need. Now over two years since Everyone In, frontline services – local authorities and charities – are frustrated and sometimes desperate at the limited options available to support non-UK nationals with undetermined or restricted eligibility.
Over the past year, Homeless Link and NACCOM – The No Accommodation Network have been conducting research with local authorities, homelessness and immigration stakeholders and people with lived experience of homelessness and restricted eligibility across England. With the support of partner areas Bedford, Haringey and Manchester, the research captured practice and policy lessons from the pandemic and tried to identify an achievable, long-term approach to better supporting this group.
The Roadmap report lays a challenge at the feet of local authorities and their partners by offering an ambitious roadmap for building inclusive homelessness systems. Doing so means looking beyond statutory duties and operationalising anti-racist, trauma-informed and person-centred principles for this group, built on solid partnership-working.
Of course, local authorities, immigration advice providers and homelessness organisations cannot deliver the change needed alone. Nor should they carry all the financial risk for supporting people waiting on Home Office decisions or resolving vulnerabilities driven by the immigration and asylum systems.
Our research shows that a minimum level of universally accessible accommodation is a game-changer for the successful resolution of immigration cases and homelessness. This is why we are asking for additional investment from Government in accommodation options for non-UK nationals with undetermined or restricted eligibility facing homelessness; expedition of Home Office decisions on their cases; and a full review of all immigration-based restrictions on public funds to mitigate their role in driving homelessness, among other things.
As we approach the 2024 target year to end rough sleeping, we need ambition and a new approach. It is clear that–for non-UK nationals with restricted eligibility–the status quo will not get us there. The passing of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and rising numbers of Ukrainian nationals facing homelessness also point to a challenging path ahead.
To achieve our goals, we cannot exclude any group from the umbrella of local homelessness support. We must apply lessons we’ve already learned on what works, treat immigration status as a support need and – in partnership with the immigration advice sector – continue to push for the national legislative reform needed.