Asylum Matters Advocacy Update – 1 February 2022

Our fortnightly summary of ongoing advocacy initiatives, new research, government developments and useful resources. Contact us if you’d like to get this update directly into your inbox.

1. Ongoing advocacy

Nationality and Borders Bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill has entered Committee Stage in the House of Lords as it continues its passage through Parliament. This involves detailed examination of the Bill and consideration of amendments, which can be viewed here. The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and Select Committee on the Constitution have both published reports containing their assessments of the Bill.

You can see the latest on the Bill’s passage through the House of Lords here and full information and updates are available on the Bill’s web page.

We have produced a template letter to Peers, which you can use and adapt to contact any Peers you know of with a local connection to your area or who have an interest in migration, asylum and refugee issues.

Advocacy against the Bill has continued:

Fighting the Anti-Refugee Bill in our communities

Communities across the country continue to oppose the Bill, with further motions and pledges of opposition. In the last two weeks:

  • Lewisham Council passed a motion condemning the Bill.

  • Liverpool City Council also unanimously passed a motion of condemnation on the Bill. Activists gathered outside the council in support of the motion, and 38 voluntary sector groups also came together to pledge their support for their council and their opposition to the Bill.

  • The Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council condemned the Bill in response to concerns from local residents.

  • Salford City Council also passed a motion of opposition to the Bill, as well as support for the Lift the Ban campaign, condemnation of inadequate asylum support rates and a pledge to work towards becoming a City of Sanctuary.

See the round-up on our blog of all the public statements from local authorities, devolved governments and Mayors who are standing together to reject these harmful proposals.

If you’d like to call on your national, regional or local decision-makers to speak out publicly against the Bill, you can find a guide on how to engage your local leaders on the Bill here and a template council motion you can use here. If you’d like to chat through taking action, please get in touch with your regional Asylum Matters Campaign Manager, or drop us a line at info@asylummatters.org.

Together With Refugees: Valentine’s Day Action

To build support for amendments tabled in the Lords, particularly around a resettlement target and ending the two-tier system of protection, Together With Refugees has launched a Valentine’s Day Action. Supporters are encouraged to send a Valentine’s Day card to MPs to get behind the two amendments and send a strong signal to ministers, while building support for a more compassionate approach to refugees.

 

2. Home Office and Government developments

Increase in asylum support rates

Asylum support payments will increase by £1.22 a week, from £39.63 to £40.85 per person, following the 2021 review of rates. In a letter to the NASF support subgroup the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration confirmed the increase was reached by applying the 3.1% CPI rate for September 2021 to the previous rate.

For individuals living in full-board accommodation, the current weekly payment of £8 intended to cover essential living items not met by their accommodation provider will also increase by 3.1% to £8.24. This will come into force on 21 February through a statutory instrument.

This decision comes despite the growing cost of living crisis, resulting in the CPI now standing at over 5%; and as recently highlighted by campaigner Jack Monroe, the far greater impact of cost of living increases on those on lower incomes.

MoD to take ‘operational primacy’ for ‘counter migration’ Channel operations

The Home Secretary announced the Royal Navy is to take control operationally of the UK response to Channel crossings, in a move seen by some as part of the Government’s ‘Operation Red Meat’.  An Urgent Question secured in the Commons by Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood saw the Government challenged on the appropriateness of using the military in this context. Defence Minister James Heappey remarked that ‘bringing people into a system that itself acts as a deterrent is the right way to go’. You can watch the debate here (from 12:34) and read it here.

Meanwhile, reports that the Government was engaged with talks in Ghana about ‘offshoring’ people seeking asylum were flatly denied by the Ghanaian government.

Home Office admits to confiscating phones

In an ongoing case at the High Court, the Home Office has admitted that it has operated an unlawful policy to seize the phones from people who arrive in the UK after crossing the Channel, having previously denied that such an approach existed.

High Court finds Fast Track Age Assessments for asylum seeking children unlawful

The High Court has found that age assessments not following the ‘Merton compliant’ age assessment process for people newly entering the country are unlawful. Detailed summary of the judgement here and a useful explainer from Free Movement here.

3. Resources, events, jobs and training

LGBTQ+ Asylum seeker housing needs report – launch event

DPIA and Glitter Cymru will launch a new report on the housing needs of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in an event on Thursday 3 February 1-2pm, which will offer an opportunity to hear directly from people with lived experience and discuss the findings. You can book your place via Eventbrite.

Jobs and tenders

4. What we’ve been reading

  • This piece from the Museums Association highlights the increasingly important role that cultural institutions such as Manchester’s People’s History Museum are playing in speaking up for people seeking asylum

 

 

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