Citizens UK has today (December 17, 2020) joined with dozens of member organisations tackling street homelessness to launch a day of action to ask the Government to build on their Everyone In policy. The main ask is that people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) are included, as a “moral and public health priority.”
Charities involved in the action include:
In March 2020, the Government introduced the Everyone In policy with £3.2 million in funding offered to local authorities to assist all rough sleepers during lockdown. An estimated 15,000 rough sleepers were given a lifeline through emergency accommodation in a bid to prevent devastating outbreaks within the homeless population.
In June hundreds of Citizens UK leaders took part in an action asking Robert Jenrick MP to extend the scheme and in July a new round of funding was introduced to support people engaged in the scheme until the end of the year.
Community leaders and homelessness providers from across the country came together to praise the Government’s Everyone In scheme, which, by giving flexibility and funding to local authorities, ensured 15,000 homeless people were housed during the pandemic, regardless of their immigration status. 2,500 were people who would not be eligible for statutory homelessness assistance, including people on NRPF.
No recourse to public funds
The Government’s scheme included people in our communities with so-called “no recourse to public funds” (NRPF) conditions on their visas.
The NRPF policy affects an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK and is part of the UK Hostile Environment. It denies many of our neighbours, migrants and asylum seekers access to the basic safety net of emergency housing support, universal credit, and social housing. Stripping away this safety net, the NRPF policy can leave people in our communities at risk of destitution and homelessness.
What comes after Everyone In?
As funding and temporary measures brought in during the pandemic to house people with NRPF come to an end*, there is a risk that thousands of people will go back to the streets or even get deported from January.
The call to include people with NRPF in future support – at least for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic - comes after leading epidemiologists from UCL found the Everyone In Policy was responsible for saving hundreds of lives.
Dan Lewer, a researcher and epidemiologist at UCL said: “The risk of outbreaks in homeless settings (such as night shelters and hostels) is very high, even when Covid-19 numbers are low in the community. The reason why we haven’t seen many outbreaks in these settings is down to the support offered to homeless people through the Everyone In scheme, plus work from hostel staff and residents to keep hostels safe.”
Day of action
The day of action on December 17 will involve:
- A small delegation of leaders from different faiths will deliver a Christmas card and a candle to the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP at MHCLG offices, 2 Marsham Street. The card has been designed by an artist, Nana Adusei, who is a resident at supported accommodation provider Malachi Place in Ilford. The card will contain messages from across the country of people who are asking the Housing Secretary to ensure homeless people, no matter what country they are from, have access to support until at least the end of the pandemic.
- A virtual action at 4pm where leaders up and down the country will bring candles and watch live as the card is delivered.
Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive, Caritas Anchor House said: “We cannot end rough sleeping without having a solution which enables people with No Recourse to Public Funds to access housing. It’s vital that rough sleepers do not return to the streets during a global pandemic. Access to housing should be a basic human right and if we want to live in civilised and a humane society this must become our shared vision.”
Reverend Ian Rutherford, City Centre Minister at Methodist Central Hall, Manchester said: "Over the last year and throughout the pandemic, as we’ve heard stories emerging from the ground, whether it’s to do with housing, education, food or health – one source of injustice and sorrow has been mentioned time and time again: No Recourse to Public Funds. We believe that everyone deserves to have a home and especially now during the pandemic we need to make sure that people who are the most vulnerable get the support they need."