Rough Sleeping

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 25th February 2021.

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Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 12:34 pm, 25th February 2021

I am grateful to the Chair of the Select Committee. In the light of the health emergency we were in, and that in many respects we remain in today, we took the decision to advise local councils that although the law remains unchanged with respect to “no recourse to public funds”, they should take into account the health emergency, and more recently the winter weather we have been experiencing, and they should offer a compassionate response to people regardless of their circumstances or their country of origin. That is what local councils have done. Thousands of individuals who do not have recourse to public funds have been supported through the Everyone In programme. I have met some of them—just a week ago, I was with Westminster City Council in Bayswater, where I met members of the public who had been supported into safe accommodation, some of whom did not have recourse to public funds.

As we leave the health emergency, thanks to the success we are making of the vaccine programme, the law will remain unchanged. It is important that we have a robust immigration policy, as other countries have. I am working closely with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to establish how we can use our newfound powers as we leave the European Union to create an immigration policy that does not attract individuals to this country, but that, if people do come here and find themselves in the precarious position of living on the streets, helps them in a compassionate way to return to their home country and to rebuild their lives there.