A NEW report from the All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) on both Migration and Poverty says that the UK’s migration policy causes destitution by design, leaves people vulnerable to exploitation and crime, and increases the costs paid by society.

The joint inquiry of the APPGs received nearly 200 submissions from people with professional and lived experience of the migration system –something that was crucial to the findings and recommendations of the report.

The inquiry found that there is little evidential basis that the low level of welfare and financial support offered to more recent arrivals to the UK as a deterrent. Therefore, these policies are not only ineffective but push costs onto local authorities, public service providers and the voluntary sector who step in to support those at risk of destitution.

Ultimately, says the report, it is local council taxpayers and local public services who are left to pick up the bill for central Government policy failures. This negatively affects those trying to successfully integrate, participate and build a life in the UK, and also host communities who are often working to provide a positive welcome and support people to escape poverty.

The full report recommends a range of steps the government could take to reduce the direct impacts that immigration policy has on poverty levels in the UK, including:

  • Reducing the length of time that people spend subject to immigration control, including shortening routes to settlement and tackling backlogs. In particular, the current ‘10-year route’ should be reduced to five years.
  • Reducing fees and charges. Immigration and nationality fees (including the health surcharge) should be reviewed with the aim of reducing costs for lower income households who are already resident in the UK in particular (i.e. with a focus on in-country applications). A priority change should be to reduce fees to cost price for children and young people who are on a path to settlement and British citizenship.
  • Giving those seeking asylum in the UK the right to work after six months, allowing them the chance to support themselves and escape poverty and destitution.
  • Urgently reviewing the levels of asylum support. Whatever level is set, provision should be put in place to ensure that asylum support payments are regularly uprated in line with inflation
  • Strictly time-limiting the application of No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions for those on routes to settlement in the UK – nobody on a path to settlement and citizenship should be subject to NRPF conditions for more than five years. The scope of these conditions should also be reduced, for example to enable families with children to access Child Benefit and those in the most urgent need to access emergency welfare support.
  • Ensuring that all services for children and young people, including early years provision and post-16 Further Education, are available regardless of immigration status.
  • Tackling the acute housing challenges faced by asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, including by extending the ‘move-on period’ for newly-recognised refugees from 28 to 56 days.
  • Working in partnership with devolved, regional and local government to develop a comprehensive refugee integration strategy.
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, including the creation of a Migrants’ Commissioner, to ensure that those who are affected by immigration policy have their voices heard. The level of engagement with this Inquiry from those with lived experience of immigration and poverty shows the potential gains to be had from engaging directly with those who are affected by policies in this area.

Commenting on the report, Baroness Ruth Lister, Professor Emerita  of Social Policy at Loughborough University and a former Director of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “This report shows that all too often Government policy is creating hidden poverty and destitution for people in the immigration system. By creating a hostile environment for many in vulnerable circumstances, it is not only pushing people into extreme poverty and destitution, but is leaving local communities – local government and civil society groups – to pick up the pieces

“The report demonstrates the urgent need for an inclusive immigration system that respects the human rights of all asylum seekers, refugees and migrants and serves the social and economic needs of the country.”

* Read: The Effects of UK Immigration, Asylum and Refugee Policy on Poverty here.

* Source: All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty