Home Office rules come into force for non-UK nationals sleeping rough – Crisis response

Yesterday afternoon, the Home Office published guidance on their website setting out how to implement new immigration rules which mean that non-UK nationals sleeping rough may have their permission to remain in the UK refused or cancelled. This will leave people with no legal status to live here facing destitution and, if they do not to leave the UK voluntarily, then the Home Office can enforce their removal from the country.

These immigration rules were first announced in October last year and were set to come into force from December but, without guidance in place, the policy has not been put into practice until now.

The guidance outlines that the policy should only be used in cases where someone has refused or disengaged with support and is engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour or other criminal activity.

In response, Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis said: “Everyone in our society should have a safe place to live and shouldn’t face punishment for experiencing homelessness. This policy completely goes against this – it is inhumane and its mere existence will make non-UK nationals in vulnerable circumstances fearful of asking for the support they need to help them off the streets. To be clear, we do not accept this policy and urge authorities not to use these powers in any circumstances.

“We know that the avenues of support outlined in the guidance, such as specialist immigration advice, are already in very short supply in many areas across the country. The guidance itself acknowledges how few support options are available for people in this situation and we know from our own services that this leaves people trapped sleeping rough with no way out.  

“​We urgently need to see a clear, national strategy from the Government to end rough sleeping and homelessness. The focus must be on providing the right support for people on our streets – this means a safe place to stay, immigration advice and employment support so that everyone can leave homelessness behind for good.”