People seeking asylum must continue to be protected from evictions into homelessness throughout winter, and whilst COVID-19 remains a threat to us all.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people were temporarily protected from homelessness due to two key policy measures: a suspension of evictions from asylum accommodation by the Home Office; and ‘Everyone In’ policy directive from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and equivalent measures from devolved governments.
Should these emergency measures end, people with NRPF and those who have received a negative decision on their asylum claim would be at acute risk of homelessness. This would not be acceptable under normal circumstances, but in a pandemic in the middle of winter, it is manifestly unsafe.
We are calling on the Home Office to halt all plans to resume evictions for people who have been refused asylum. It is obvious that this is the only just and fair course of action in the interests of the safety of people seeking asylum and public health.
We have been working with others across the sector to secure parliamentary scrutiny of the Home Office’s decision, but as ever, our strength is always in collective action. We have produced some template resources with NACCOM that you can use to write to your constituency MP or Local Authority to join the call to halt evictions and protect everyone from homelessness and COVID-19, regardless of their immigration status.
- A template letter to local authorities that you can use asking your local council to speak up to oppose these plans;
- A template letter to MPs for NACCOM members and groups engaged in frontline destitution services prepared by our colleagues at NACCOM;
- A template letter to MPs for groups who aren’t engaged in frontline service provision;
- A template letter to MPs for individuals.
These are draft resources, meaning we encourage you to adapt and amend to make them relevant to you and the organisations or groups you represent, as long as the message to the Home Secretary remains loud and clear: the Home Office must halt plans to resume evictions for people who have been refused asylum.
Longer term, alongside many others, we want to see significant changes to national policy to allow everyone to be protected from homelessness. We have also outlined our proposals in our joint position statement with NACCOM, Everyone Out, which includes the suspension of No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and calls on the Home Office to work with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and relevant housing departments for constituent nations of the UK to provide adequate funding and clear guidance for local authorities, so they are able to fully support everyone at risk of homelessness in their communities.
But for now, the message is simple. No-one should be forced into homelessness, not least in the middle of a public health pandemic.
We’ll be updating this post with any further opportunities for action, so stay tuned.