The Government recently consulted on its New Plan for Immigration, which sets out several changes to the asylum system, as well as making some amendments to British nationality law.
The New Plan for Immigration includes proposals that intend to:
- Change the way that asylum claims are treated when they are made by people who are deemed to have entered the UK through non-legal routes (‘inadmissible’ claims)
- Introduce asylum reception centres to replace the use of dispersal accommodation
- Change the way age assessments are carried out
- Expand refugee resettlement and extend integration support
- Change to the way that victims of modern slavery are assessed and supported
The following proposals will restrict entitlements to services for a significant number of people who have claimed asylum:
- Introduction of Temporary Protection Leave for people with an ‘inadmissible’ asylum claim that is considered in the UK because the person cannot be returned to a safe country.
- Consultation with local authorities on implementing provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 to remove asylum support for people who are Appeals Rights Exhausted (ARE).
Temporary Protection Leave, rather than five years' leave to remain on a settlement route with access to public funds, will be granted to people with 'inadmissible' claims who are accepted as being at risk of persecution and unable to return to their country of origin. Temporary Protection Leave will be granted for 30 months, is not on a settlement route, and will be subject to the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition, unless the person is at risk of destitution.
The Immigration Act 2016 contains provisions to end section 95 support for ARE families and abolish section 4 support for ARE asylum seekers. If these are implemented, Home Office support would only be available to a person who is ARE following an unsuccessful asylum claim in very limited circumstances. The Act also contains provisions that will amend the legal basis for providing local authority support to destitute families and care leavers who are ARE (including those who have followed non-asylum routes). These provisions are not referenced in the New Plan for Immigration but it is possible that they may be implemented if the Government proceeds to withdraw asylum support from people who become ARE. It is not known whether the Government intends to make any amendments to the asylum support or local authority support provisions when new legislation is laid before Parliament in order to implement the other changes that have been proposed.
If these changes are implemented as proposed, more people will be at risk of destitution. Putting new groups of people at risk of homelessness is totally at odds with the Government’s strategy to end rough sleeping and the positive practice that has developed through taking action to protect lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our response to the New Plan for Immigration consultation highlights the risks to individuals and councils that are likely to arise as a result of these proposals. With the deadline for applying under the EU Settlement Scheme approaching, which is expected to put further pressures on council services as people who have not applied lose access to employment and benefits, wider consequences of proposed changes to the immigration and asylum system must be fully evaluated and any negative impacts addressed.
We will provide further updates when there is more information about the implementation of these proposals and the other changes that are set out in the New Plan for Immigration.