Chris Philp MP writes to British Red Cross with details of policy change due to Covid-19
Home Office announces three-month pause on all evictions from asylum accommodation
29 March 2020
The British Red Cross yesterday welcomed an announcement by the Home Office that all evictions from asylum accommodation will be halted for at least three months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the British Red Cross, Chris Philp MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, wrote:
"This crisis has had a significant impact on the asylum system, particularly in ensuring we have enough accommodation to meet the current needs of asylum seekers who require housing, as well as safeguarding the people we care for and the communities in which they live.
"The Prime Minister was clear on Monday 23 March that we must do all we can to ensure that people remain in their homes and do not travel or move around unnecessarily, adding additional measures to support that. To that end, I have taken the decision that, for the next three months, we will not be requiring people to leave our accommodation because their asylum claim or appeal has been finally decided (as would normally be the case). This decision will be reviewed ahead of the end of June 2020."
The Refugee Council notes that the halt on evictions applies to both people whose asylum cases are refused and those who are granted status.
Alex Fraser, UK Director of Refugee Support and Restoring Family Links at the British Red Cross, said:
"It's very welcome news that the Home Office will temporarily halt all evictions from asylum accommodation. Nobody should be at risk of homelessness and destitution, and this is an important first step to ensuring that people are able to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
"As the largest independent provider of support and advice to refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK, we are witnessing the impact that the COVID-19 is having on the asylum system and the people in it. As charities and community groups that traditionally provide vital support to people seeking asylum are having to adjust their services in response to current restrictions, it's right that the UK Government has taken this decision to safeguard the accommodation of nearly 50,000 people.
"Steps like this are vital to ensuring that everyone has access to secure accommodation, financial support and healthcare at this time. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to secure further changes to make this a reality."
On Thursday, over 80 charities wrote to the Prime Minister to urge him to make vital support available during the pandemic to those unable to access public funds due to their uncertain migration status.
The letter by NACCOM and others stated: "It is now imperative that those who are homeless and destitute stemming from insecure immigration status, including those with No Recourse to Public Funds, as well as those seeking to access or who have been refused asylum are able to urgently access publicly funded accommodation and support.
"This will not only help vulnerable homeless and destitute individuals to be safe and hence be able to comply with your instructions on safe social distancing and self-isolation, but it will also significantly lessen the risk of their exposure to the virus and therefore its onward transmission."
To keep up to date with developments on the impact of Covid-19 on the asylum system, see the Refugee Council's Changes to Home Office Asylum & Resettlement policy and practice in response to Covid-19 and Right to Remain's Changes to the asylum and immigration process due to Covid-19.