Housing Rights Newsletter

How new immigration rules affect housing and benefits

The first newsletter of 2021 from the CIH and BMENational focuses on the immigration rule changes and how they affect housing and benefits, especially for European nationals in the UK. In the meantime, the countdown has begun for European nationals who still need to apply for settled status – our clock tells you how much time they have left.

The newsletter brings you articles and news items on:

  • How the new immigration rules affect social landlords
  • Will rough sleepers be penalised under the new immigration rules?
  • Risks loom for European nationals as the June 30th deadline approaches
  • “No recourse” is still in the news
  • More on Windrush and the hostile environment
  • Post-Brexit immigration rules – other key changes
  • Growing problems with asylum seeker accommodation
  • Other news.

BMENational Statement on Charter Flight Deportations

We note with dismay the plans by the Home Office to continue with mass deportations to Jamaica.

With a continuing health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic we believe that lives are at risk, as the UK government are prepared to deport men, women and children to countries where they have few, if any, links having lived the majority of their lives in this country, also placing them at risk of destitution.

We are concerned that the government is going ahead with the deportations despite the findings of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review which highlighted the an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation at the Home Office. This is now backed up by the Equality Human Rights Commission report on the development and implementation of hostile environment policies which concluded that the Home Office broke equality law and these policies impacted disproportionally upon the Windrush generation and black people validly coming into this country in later years.

We believe that the deportation plans are another area where the systemic and individualised barriers experienced by our residents lead to failure to effectively integrate race equality goals into public policy.

We will continue with our work on providing homes for our communities, building vibrant neighbourhoods and tackling homelessness.

As leaders in our sector, we believe that it is our responsibility to call out discrimination and bias especially where it affects community cohesion. We urge the government to listen to its own reviews and stop further deportations.

Cym D’Souza

Chair BMENational

About BMENational:

BME National is a collective of over 45 housing associations working in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country. Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) housing associations were set up in the 1970s and now manage over 65,000 homes. BME National also provides a consultative and promotional platform for BME housing issues. BME National aims to highlight the contribution BME housing associations make to successful, vibrant and integrated communities while promoting equality and diversity in the delivery of housing and support services.

Innisfree are recruiting two board members

Innisfree’s story started in 1985 when the unmet housing needs of the Irish communities in London prompted some activists to set up a new housing association. Today, nearly 60% of our tenants have an Irish background though when we let our homes, we are open to the diverse community of Londoners in need of genuinely affordable housing.

Closing date is 23rd November.

Bangla HA and Covid-19

Bangla Housing Association, based in East London where there is a high proportion of Asian and ethnic minority residents, recently secured a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, which is supported by Government, to create a Covid-19 advice project for the Bangladeshi communities in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. 

BHA secured the grant, working in partnership with Spitalfields Housing Association and supported by BME London Landlords group of 14 BME led Registered Social Landlords.

In this blog post, BHA chief executive Bashir Uddin, explains the origins and aims of the project.

The Bangladeshi community in Hackney and Tower Hamlets is the largest Bangladeshi community in the country. Bangladeshis suffer twice the Covid 19-related death rate compared to people of white British ethnicity, according to Public Health England.

Research from NHS England, Public Health England, the Runnymede Trust and a number of health think tanks provide a number of reasons for this phenomenon.

They include greater poverty, intergenerational living, being in higher risk occupations, and significantly, poorer uptake of information. All point out that these factors combine to impact this community disproportionately in terms of infection, hospital admissions and death rates.

As the number of coronavirus cases are on the rise again, it is vitally important that we must get the message out effectively because with the right advice we can save lives. 

Many in the Bangladeshi community have first-hand experience of those who have died during the pandemic. Personally, I have lost two close relatives due to this virus. One of them was just 44 years old. It’s clear that the messages about how to stay safe have not been getting through.

Working with Spitalfields Housing, Bangla Housing Association will use its grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to launch a project based on following three clear practical steps.

1. Employ two Bengali speaking health professionals for six months who will visit Bangladeshi homes from the Housing Associations and the communities within which they live. The health professionals will network and liaise with NHS providers and local authority teams in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Their role will be to provide culturally sensitive but practical advice, particularly in advance of any second spike in cases. 

2. With the help of the health workers and partners, we will develop a translated leaflet and campaign materials that will be distributed via a range of community organisations, schools and youth associations. The information will be paired with presentations by the health workers, as well as handed out during visits to homes.

3. We will produce a digitally sharable short video to post on the Bangla and Spitalfields Housing Associations websites and Facebook pages for the Bangladeshi community. The videos will be shown at community events including lunch clubs for the elderly in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, at mosques, and other local community groups. 

The project will aim to reach most of the 10,000 households and 40,000 strong community across both boroughs. Emphasis will be given to the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. 

The project will also recruit volunteer ambassadors who will support the health workers to impart information through social media campaigns and undertake awareness raising campaigns in local schools. These ambassadors will, mainly be, young people and local community leaders.  

Our COVID-19 advice project starts at the beginning of October and will run for six months.

This is a timely project focused on getting clear messages out to the Bangladeshi community in their first language, which is not a method yet being used to provide targeted advice to an at-risk community on how to protect itself from the risk of COVID-19.  

This funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund distributed from the National Lottery Community Fund will help us reach those who are vulnerable and at-risk in the Bangladeshi community in East London and get them to realise how serious it is to protect yourself against Covid-19 and the serious consequences if they do not.