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New report from IPPR ‘Access denied: The Human Impact of the Hostile Environment’

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is a registered charity and the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank.
Their new report assesses the impacts of the hostile environment on individuals and communities. It finds that the hostile environment has contributed to forcing many people into destitution, has helped to foster racism and discrimination, and has erroneously affected people with the legal right to live and work in the UK.
The report is not surprising but it does officially confirm the serious deleterious effects of the hostile environment on us all. It is worth sending to your MP to support their education and you ca express your concerns about the damage caused by these policies and ask your MP to oppose them at every opportunity.
In particular, the report found that:
The enforcement of rules on illegal working targets specific ethnic groups.
Home Office data on illegal working penalties reveals that in the last quarter
of available data around half of all fines went to South Asian or Chinese
restaurants and takeaways. Home Office officials have suggested in the past
that they target such businesses because certain nationalities are believed
to be removable.
The ‘right to rent’ scheme – which requires landlords to check the immigration
status of prospective tenants – introduces new forms of discrimination into
the private rental sector. A survey of more than 100 landlords in 2017 found
that around half stated that they were now less likely to consider letting to
foreign nationals that originated from outside the EU.
• Restrictions on access to benefits can force people without immigration status
into destitution. There is evidence of malnutrition, cramped and substandard
accommodation, and mental ill-health among undocumented migrant families
unable to access public funds.
Charges for secondary healthcare can deter people from seeking treatment.
In one study by Doctors of the World, around 20 per cent of service users at
their clinic (143 people) were affected by charging, and of these one third were
deterred from seeking timely care as a result. In the words of one participant
with direct experience we spoke with: “I was afraid to go to the hospital
because I thought if I keep going, there will be more bills, but I still needed
care from the hospital… I was told debt collectors would come to my house.”
Data-sharing between the police and the Home Office can deter victims
and witnesses of crime from coming forward, for fear that details of their
immigration status will be passed on to Immigration Enforcement. A recent
study of 50 migrant women survivors of domestic violence in London found
that a quarter of respondents said that fears over deportation were a factor in
deterring them from coming forward and nearly two-thirds had been threatened
by their partner that they would be deported if they reported the abuse.
UK citizens and people with legal immigration status have also been subject
to the hostile environment. Members of the Windrush generation who were
settled in the UK before the coming into force of the Immigration Act 1971
were granted residency rights, but many had no documentation to prove their
status. As the government’s hostile environment measures were rolled out,
many lost their jobs, became homeless, and were barred from accessing free
healthcare. Up to 57,000 people from Commonwealth countries are potentially
affected. There are similar risks for EU citizens living in the UK once the UK
ends freedom of movement, given some EU citizens are likely to miss the
deadline for confirming their status via the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the impacts of the hostile environment.
In one reported case, a cleaner without immigration status originally from the
Philippines contracted the virus and died in his home due to fears over coming
forward for treatment. Concerns have been raised that NHS charges and
restrictions on welfare could undermine efforts to contain the virus and
pose a risk to public health.