New Clause 11 - Eligibility for housing and homelessness assistance

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 17th November 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 10:45 am, 17th November 2015

Migrants granted leave to enter or remain in the UK are generally expected to be able to maintain and accommodate themselves without recourse to public funds in the form of mainstream welfare benefits or local authority housing support. There is legislation in place to ensure that the majority of migrants cannot access those public funds. The Government are aware that in some cases a person granted immigration leave with no bar to accessing public funds might require local authority housing or homelessness support but would currently be ineligible as they are not settled here.

The Home Office is working with other Departments—the Department for Communities and Local Government in particular—to remedy the situation as swiftly as possible. It does not follow, however, that everyone who has been granted leave should have an immediate and enforceable claim to access local authority support and services, even where there is no bar to them accessing other public funds.

The No Recourse to Public Funds Network has highlighted the issue of the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006, which control access to homelessness assistance and still refer to the discretionary leave category. That is quite a technical but important point. I assure the Committee that we are working closely with the Department for Communities and Local Government to examine amendments to the 2006 regulations, which is the relevant point.

There is an issue here, but I hope, with that assurance, the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras will be minded to withdraw the new clause, while noting that this is something we are aware of and will take steps to remedy.