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World Habitat is concerned about proposals from the UK Government Home Office that ‘Permission to stay may be refused where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK’.

Responding to this announcement – the measures of which are due to be introduced on 1 December 2020 – World Habitat Chief Executive, David Ireland, said:

“This proposal is extremely disappointing. Homelessness is not a crime, and rough sleeping is life threatening, regardless of immigration status. We were particularly impressed with the swift action the Government took earlier this year, to provide emergency accommodation for all those sleeping on the streets. It demonstrated that dramatically reducing street homelessness is possible, particularly when government commitment is combined with strong local partnership working. However, these latest proposals are at odds with the UK government’s “Everybody In” approach, which has been celebrated internationally as good practice in response to COVID-19.

“The government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2027. It should not do this by deporting or threatening to deport anyone found sleeping on the streets of the UK. Homelessness and housing organisations (in partnership with relevant immigration advisers) should be allowed to focus on enabling nationals from any country to achieve their rights. It is not their role to perform or assist the duties of Home Office Immigration Enforcement teams. Advice and guidance on returning to home countries should be provided to those who request it, independent of government immigration services.

“We hope the Government reconsiders and removes this new proposal and works with homelessness organisations to provide those who are sleeping rough with the accommodation and support they need to help them lead fulfilling lives, with additional access to necessary health services, employment and opportunity.”

World Habitat is supporting – and is encouraging others to sign – this petition from Crisis calling for the new immigration rules to be scrapped.

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