Jon Beech from LASSN writes:
Regular readers will remember the post we did on Homelessness in Leeds and the potential impact that the end of Everybody In programme would have on destitute asylum seekers with No Recourse to Public Funds.
Since then various LMP members have been asking Leeds City Council for a statement of their current position.
Here is the response we received from Tom Riordan, CEO of Leeds City Council (TL;DR: there isn’t the money to continue providing accommodation to NRPF, so the current arrangements are winding down. Home Office continue to evict asylum seekers, even though there is no longer any form of emergency accommodation for destitute asylum seekers in Leeds.)
LCC have called a meeting of 3rd Sector partners from WYDAN, LEDAS, PAFRAS and LASSN to discuss next steps on Tuesday 13th October. LMP reps will surely feedback on what is discussed at LMP Zoom meetings and on here on the Blog.
So to clarify, the problem of homelessness is being caused by
- people being evicted by Home Office, and
- the end of the Public Health approach to homelessness, which allowed Local Authorities to house everyone who needed somewhere to stay,
The only way to stop this from happening is for there to be a change of policy/guidance by UK.GOV.
NACCOM and Asylum Matters are both co-ordinating a campaign called #StopAsylumEvictions in an attempt to get a change in policy.
They have developed a very helpful list of things you can do to lend your support to this campaign including template letters and craftivist shenanigans. The national day of action for #StopAsylumEvictions was last Wednesday, but don’t let that stop you from getting involved.
Mary from Asylum Matters suggested I post my reply to Tom Riodan’s message, so here it is.
Thanks for pulling this comprehensive response together, and for getting back to me so quickly. It sets out LCC’s position very clearly.
Although it is disappointing, all partners appreciate the extremely difficult position officers have been placed in by the Government’s decision to step down a successful Public Health approach in favour of a return to the Old Normal.
We have seen the vigour and commitment of LCC officers in enacting the new Public Health approach – and hoping/planning for a New Normal of greater fairness and equality. One which more closely echoes the sentiments of LCC’s Statement on Black Lives Matter.
It has been hugely exciting and energising to see what we can achieve together, by working more collaboratively alongside colleagues in Housing Options. It confirms to me at least that another world is possible, if we act like it is.
I remain hopeful that with the right kind of political pressure (and worsening of the pandemic) we may see a change of policy, or at least a broadening of support to embrace the recent successes achieved by you and your teams. Asylum Matters have already attempted some organising on this issue.
Until then all members of LMP are committed to working with you and your teams to mitigate the worst aspects of this hateful and hostile policy environment, and will do our best to offer kindness, solidarity (and what shelter we can) to everyone at every turn.
Thanks again, and best of luck with it all.