Newham Council has responded to an article in the Guardian Newspaper
Newham Council has responded to an article in the Guardian Newspaper on 1 May which claims that an arrangement with the Home Office to provide access to an officer has raised concerns about the ability of the most vulnerable families to seek support.
Tim Aldridge, Newham Council’s Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services, said:
“It is incorrect to say that this arrangement has prevented vulnerable families from seeking support and it has certainly not created a hostile environment as is claimed in the article.
“Newham Council supports vulnerable families with no recourse to public funds with accommodation and financial assistance, while also supporting them through immigration application processes so that they can access benefits and employment.
“The on-site immigration officer (OSIO) in Newham is to support the application process of vulnerable families, and enable them to progress more swiftly. This has meant the number of families awaiting a decision has reduced by about 50 since October 2021, ensuring that families receive quicker decisions on their applications. If the outcome of a decision is that the family has no recourse to public funds, they can continue to receive the housing and financial support that Newham Council provides for those vulnerable families.
“The OSIO who is working with Newham has no direct contact with children and families. They have provided information and advice to Council officers who are supporting families to make the right applications to the Home Office. This has helped reduce the delays that families often experience with their applications. The OSIO has also helped with some of the ‘legacy cases’ that were stuck in the system by retrieving information from the Home Office in a timely manner.
This is not creating a hostile environment, on the contrary, Council Officers are clear that our role is to provide a welcoming environment for residents and to support them to access the services to which they are entitled. Articles such as this do not help a situation where families are already experiencing distress and anxiety whilst they go through this process. At Newham we are doing all we can to support and help these families and the OSIO plays a role in this support.
“I have written to the Guardian asking for clarification on this issue.”