The Luton Homelessness Partnership together deliver a variety of community services across the town including outreach, accommodation and a welfare centre in order to facilitate people moving away from homelessness and towards a better future. Over the years we have seen the changing levels of need in Luton and in particular the challenges faced by non-UK nationals and those who are not entitled to public funds experiencing abject destitution.
New Home Office immigration rules published on 22nd October outline that EEA nationals rough sleeping could face deportation from 1 January next year. The impact of this policy is likely to result in people being increasingly at risk of exploitation and health crises and being reluctant to come forward for help. There is a very real risk of domestic violence, modern slavery and forced labour if people are pushed further into the fringes of society, meaning they may turn to those who seek to exploit them.
In contrast, this year the ‘Everybody In Campaign’ across the UK and especially in Luton has been incredibly powerful at reducing rough sleeping throughout the pandemic. The unconditional approach has provided rest, dignity and safety regardless of each individual’s personal background. It has shown how the UK Government, Luton Borough Council and the Luton Homelessness Partnership providers can work closely together for good to save lives.
The members of the Luton Homeless Partnership therefore call on the government to urgently reconsider these new rules, and instead build on the positive approach shown across Luton and the rest of the country during the pandemic.