We’re less than three weeks into 2024, and already we’re seeing new reasons to be alarmed by UK asylum policy. This is in addition to the ongoing homelessness crisis among newly granted refugees caused by 7 day evictions from asylum accommodation - despite the now freezing conditions, the Home Office continues to evict people into homelessness.

On Monday, there was the news that asylum accommodation would be excluded from new regulations forcing landlords to fix damp and mould problems in social housing. Known as Awaab’s law, the new regulations come after the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak from extended exposure to black mould in his home.

Director of NACCOM (the No Accommodation Network), Bridget Young, told the Guardian: “Housing should be safe for everyone, regardless of immigration status. Not extending these basic but important protections to people in asylum accommodation creates a two-tier system of housing standards that puts people seeking asylum disproportionately at risk of harm, and embeds a differential approach to the treatment of refugees in the housing sector.”

“It also cannot be right that Home Office accommodation contractors are allowed to make huge profits, often at the expense of people’s health and safety,” she said.

As a charity that provides safe accommodation and support to people facing homelessness after claiming asylum, this angers us. We want to see life in all its fullness for people who seek safety here in the UK - not double standards in housing that lead to deterioration in people’s health and quality of life.

This week also saw the Safety of Rwanda Bill return to the House of Commons for the committee stage on Tuesday, after narrowly passing its first vote in Parliament on the 12th December 2023. The bill then passed its third reading yesterday by 320 votes to 276 votes. Despite resignations from Tory MPs on Tuesday, and the threat of a wider rebellion against the PM, in the end only 11 voted against the bill, including the former Home Secretary (Suella Braverman) and former Immigration Minister (Robert Jenrick).

This all came just days after the devastating news of five people losing their lives in the English channel as they attempted to seek safety in the UK.

As Enver Solomon, CEO at Refugee Council said, “If the Government is serious about ‘stopping the boats’, it must take decisive action to significantly increase safe routes for refugees, rather than pushing ahead with the unlawful, costly and ineffective Rwanda plan.”

The number of people who could be potentially affected by removal flights to Rwanda (if the scheme goes ahead) is only likely to be between 200 and 1,000. With the asylum backlog still at 98,599 at the end of December 2023, this plan - aside from being morally wrong - is also just not viable as a response.

This does not mean that viable responses aren’t out there though - the government just lacks the inclination to carry them out. Despite publishing a report on safe routes on the 11th January (as it was legally required to do within six months of the Illegal Migration Act becoming law), the government is offering no new safe routes or any improvements to existing schemes.

Even the few existing schemes left have seen decline - in the year to September 2023, just 766 refugees were resettled under the government’s global resettlement scheme. This is the lowest number in over 10 years. The only other ‘safe route’ currently on offer is family reunion, which has seen increasing delays, with a growing backlog of applications.

As we move forward into 2024, we’re ready to continue holding those in power to account, and we hope to provide practical ways for you to do the same. Thank you for standing with us to see an end to destitution among people seeking safety in the UK.

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The Boaz Trust is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1110344 at Kath Locke Centre, 123 Moss Lane East, Manchester M15 5DD. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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