Mayor of Newham joins call for more action to protect migrants who have no recourse to public funds

Mayor of Newham joins call for more action to protect migrants who have no recourse to public funds.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz is backing calls from immigration and human rights charities for the Government to do more to protect migrants, and has demanded urgent changes to ensure that they can access healthcare and other vital public services.

The Mayor has written in support of a campaign from the Joint Council of the Welfare of Immigrants’ to break down the barriers that prevent many people from seeking help, accessing public services and being safe.

She has also committed to continue to campaign to end the No Recourse to Public Funds condition being applied by the Government which is denying vital financial help to so many people, and forcing them into destitution, extreme poverty and the risks of modern-day slavery exploitation.

In a public statement, Mayor Fiaz says:

“Here in Newham, with the most ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse community in the country, we are proud of the strength and benefits that this brings. It’s been reflected in the incredible community response to the Covid-19 pandemic over the past three months. So many Newham residents have stepped in to help those most in need, and more recently, many have taken action against ongoing racism and discrimination in our society.

“The impact of Covid-19 is having a devastating human and economic impact for many of our residents, and for some the crisis has been catastrophic. These are the thousands of families and people, who have no recourse to public funds, and we can’t allow them to be treated like second-class citizens. For them, we must continue to raise our voices in defence of their human rights during this global pandemic.

“Alongside local MPs and community groups, I am focusing our campaign efforts on defending the Newham residents for who the No Recourse to Public Funds condition is being applied by the Government. Denying them vital financial help, thousands of people and families with children are being forced into destitution, extreme poverty and the risks of modern-day slavery exploitation. This is utterly unacceptable, especially when many may have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the Covid-19 crisis.

“Here in Newham we are working really hard to support these residents and families during this Covid-19 pandemic, but continued Government funding uncertainty means their futures are bleak. Our families continue to suffer, which is why we are committed to campaigning strenuously with others to demand that the Government ends this dehumanising policy. In a decent, fair and just society, there simply is no place for such treatment.

“Last week I wrote to Clearsprings Housing, which is contracted to house migrant families by the Home Office, about the shoddy and unsafe living conditions in their accommodation.

“I have taken a strong stand against racist hostile environment policies, and this principle runs through our Council and in the way we deliver our services to our residents.

“As we adjust to living with Covid-19 for the foreseeable future, and respond to its impact, we want every resident of Newham to feel safe, secure, and able to access the support they require. However, current Government policy of NHS charging and data sharing will stop migrants accessing healthcare; and even if they are entitled to treatment, the fear surrounding access will act as a life threatening deterrent. In this pandemic, but also in general, we must defend and protect equal access to health care for every single member of our local community. Government policies that overwhelmingly target those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are not only discriminatory but immoral.

“Although the Government has pledged a swift response to the factors in the disproportionate number of deaths from Covid-19 in the BAME community, as confirmed in the Public Health England report, it is policy change that is required, not another Commission.

“We support the Joint Council of the Welfare of Immigrants’ call to the Government to make urgent changes and ensure the safety of migrants in this coronavirus pandemic; and the Council will continue to campaign with them and others to end the No Recourse to Public Funds condition. Mayor Fiaz has already joined them by sending the Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, a joint open letter which can be found here.

“Marcus Rashford gave voice to millions of children across the UK who are suffering from hunger due to food poverty, when he spoke of his own experience and forced the Government to make a U-turn on free meal provision over the summer. This will make a huge difference to thousands of children in Newham.

“That’s why the Government must to do the same with the No Recourse to Public Funds condition. Show humanity, keep us all safe from Covid-19, take action. Stop denying lifelines for those children and families who can’t access healthcare and other vital resources, just because of their immigration status.”

Rokhsana Fiaz OBE
Mayor of Newham

Published: 19 Jun 2020