Homeless Link, the national membership body for frontline homeless agencies, is calling on local authorities and charities who regularly support people experiencing rough sleeping, to come together and sign a pledge to #SupportDontDeport people sleeping rough.
The call for action follows on from Home Office changes to Immigration Rules in October 2020, which made rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling someone's leave to remain within the UK. These rules were developed without consultation with the homelessness sector.
Following widespread opposition from the homelessness sector, the Home Office published new guidance in April this year (2021), to make it clear that these new powers can only be used if “a person has refused repeated offers of suitable support and engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour.”
However, Homeless Link fears that despite the guidance, if local authorities and charities don't send a strong message on this issue, it could prevent some of society's most vulnerable people from accessing support. Many in the sector are also concerned about the subjectivity of the revised guidance. In many cases, people sleeping rough have experienced significant trauma in their lives. As a result, they often have multiple, complex needs such as mental health issues and issues with drugs and/or alcohol. This can make it hard for people to engage with services and take up offers of support. There are also concerns that the new rules will negatively impact victims of modern slavery. Many, through no fault of their own, have complex immigration issues and can end up living on the streets.
Call for new rules to be scrapped
Homeless Link, along with the wider homelessness sector, has expressed grave concerns about the impact of the new Rules on homelessness services and people that need their support. They are calling for the Rules to be scrapped. Until then, they are campaigning for the impact of the new Rules to be mitigated at a local level.
Find out more about the campaign by reading Homeless Link's Policy Briefing.
Sign the pledge
To stand against the rough sleeping Immigration Rules you can join over 75 local authorities and homelessness organisations in signing the #SupportDontDeport pledge on the Homeless Link website.
Please note, there are two seperate form links on this page for local authorities and homelessness organisations.