Regular readers will remember that every once in a while we lift huge chunks of info from Asylum Matters’ Updates. The last one – sent out on 13th December – is an absolute corker, so we’ve just cut and pasted it below*.
We don’t really cover national news like this at LMP – so perhaps it would be worth subscribing to Asylum Matters’ emails? Contact [email protected] for more info
- British Red Cross: Move-on Period Still an Ordeal for New Refugees
The British Red Cross have released a new report, Still an ordeal: The move-on period for new refugees, a follow-up to their 2014 report which outlined the challenges faced by new refugees who are expected to move from asylum support to mainstream benefits within 28 days. The report finds that 29 days is not enough time for newly recognised refugees to move onto mainstream benefits or find somewhere new to live. All 26 refugees who took part in the research faced problems and were left without their most basic needs for up to 72 days. Universal Credit has made it almost inevitable that refugees will be left without support – as the automatic 35-day wait to receive the first Universal Credit payment is completely incompatible with the 28 days afforded to newly recognised refugees to access Universal Credit. In addition, the safeguards within the Universal Credit system to ensure claimants are not left without support are often not accessed by refugees. They are often unaware that they are eligible or cannot receive them because they don’t have a bank account. The report recommends that the move-on period is extended to at least 56 days, to avoid a break in support.
- Home Secretary Calls for a Review on the Right to Work for Asylum Seekers
Last week, Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, responding to a question on Lift the Ban from Catherine West, stated that, while there were no plans to change the current arrangements, “this is one of the areas that I would like to review”. This was the first public confirmation of the Home Office review of the right to work and the first clear indication from the Home Secretary that he is open to reforming the policy. The statement was covered by The Guardian and prompted opposition MPs to push for an immediate end to the ban (Afzal Khan; Ed Davey).
- Liberty: Care Don’t Share Campaign & Report
Liberty have recently released a new report ‘Care Don’t Share: Hostile Environment Data-Sharing: Why we need a firewall between essential public services and immigration enforcement.’ The report looks at the various data-sharing arrangements that allow the Home Office to access personal data, like names and addresses, that is collected by schools, hospitals and job centres, which is then used by immigration enforcement teams. These arrangements form a central part of the Government’s Hostile Environment policies and are creating a situation in which people are afraid to send their children to school, seek urgent medical care or even report crimes to the police. The Care Don’t Share campaign is calling on government departments and public services to commit to a data ‘firewall’ – a cast-iron promise that the personal information they hold will not be shared with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes. Supporters are also invited to sign the #CareDontShare pledge.
In line with the report recommendations, it was recently reported that police chiefs in England and Wales have agreed a new policy which bans officers from passing information about people suspected of being in the country illegal to deportation authorities if they come forward as victims of crime. Guardian reported on the story here.
- New Pilot Schemes to Support Migrants at Risk of Detention
The Home Office have announced that Action Foundation will be delivering a pilot (called Action Access) over the next two years to provide an ‘alternative to detention’ for female asylum seekers. The project, that will work with up to 21 people at any one time, will provide housing and support to women who are currently detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, or who would otherwise be detained there. The charity will offer participants supported accommodation managed by Action Foundation, as well as a small number in accommodation provided by dispersal contractors, in Tyneside.
This project is in response to the Home Secretary’s pledge in July to “pilot a scheme to manage vulnerable women in the community who would otherwise be detained at Yarl’s Wood” in response to the follow-up report by Stephen Shaw into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons. The aim of the pilot will be to improve voluntary compliance with the immigration system for asylum seekers who would otherwise be detained whilst being supported in the community to resolve their immigration status in a more humane and cost-effective way. If these pilot schemes are successful, the Home Office will explore how it can implement this approach on a larger scale. More information is available here.
- Department of Health Review of NHS Charging Regulations
In November 2017, the Department of Health and Social Care agreed to conduct a review into the impact of amendments made to the NHS charging regulations in 2017, with particular regard to any impact on vulnerable groups and those with protected characteristics. The review has recently been completed and concluded that, “the evidence received demonstrated that there is no significant evidence that the 2017 Amendment Regulations have led to overseas visitors being deterred from treatment or that the changes have had an impact on public health.” Though the Department did acknowledge that, “Some case studies presented did reveal that there is more to do to ensure some groups of vulnerable overseas visitors understand their entitlements and treatment options, and that providers of NHS care consider fully when a patient can be reasonably expected to leave the UK before deciding if treatment should be safely withheld if payment is not provided.” The full statement is here. This follows an unsuccessful legal challenge of the NHS Amendment Regulations of 2017, which was rejected by the High Court on Monday.
Asylum Matters and others working on this issue had flagged concerns with the review when it was announced, including that it came not long after the regulations were announced and so many of the changes had not bedded into services. We also highlighted the challenges in quantifying the ‘deterrent effect’ of these regulations and noted that stakeholders responding to the review may not have the resource to so adequately. Our response to the review is available here.
*In our defence, the editorial team have bribed Mary – our local Asylum Matters Campaigns Project Manager – with a packet of Jumbo Sparklers left over from Bonfire Night.