Branch Secretary :

Stop homeless deportations - support the charter

Thousands vulnerable


Changes to Immigration rules mean that rough sleeping is now grounds for refusal or cancellation of permission to stay in the UK. This will render thousands of homeless migrants vulnerable to removal from the UK - simply because they are, or have been, homeless.


These rules came into force on 1st December 2020 and mean that non-UK nationals may have their visas cancelled if they are found sleeping rough. It also means that when people apply for a visa, it could be refused on this basis. These rules will affect people on work, visitor, ancestry, and student visas. They will also affect EU citizens who do not apply to the EU settlement scheme before the end of June 2021. They could also affect new arrivals from the EU from the beginning of 2021.


Punished for being homeless


No one should be punished for being homeless. Recent research by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found 1.3 million in the private sector and 1.2 million in the social rented sector likely to be in arrears. This combined with record levels of redundancies from the period Aug – Nov, mean that many will be soon be facing eviction.


Homeless migrants and those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) are already some of the most vulnerable and impoverished people in society.  ‘Hostile environment’ policies and years of successive scandals have unsurprisingly made many suspicious of engaging with services. Policies such as this will further erode trust and drive vulnerable people away. It will also increase the risk for homelessness workers who are likely to face hostility from their clients


What is to be done? - Support not deport!


The Greater London Authority (GLA) has already come out against this rule, stating that it will not share information with the Home Office via the CHAIN database which is used to log interactions with people sleeping rough. It has also issued guidance to commissioned services asking them to not work with the Home Office to enforce this rule. Islington and Haringey councils have already announced they will refuse to cooperate with the Home Office.


Trade unions have a key role to play both industrially and politically in fighting against this rule. The Home Office depends on accessing information gathered from frontline organisations in order to identify people who have been homeless and to target their immigration raids. If homeless workers can pressure their organisations into refusing to share information with the Home Office, they will struggle to implement this rule.


Affiliated trade unions can also use their power to demand Labour-run local authorities follow the lead of Islington and Haringey.


See below for a draft motion to raise in your branch and here for a draft ‘Support not deport’ charter to raise in your workplace. Download the charter here.


Let us know about your progress.



Jack Jeffery Secretary Unite housing workers (LE1111 branch)




1. [Organisation] resolve not to share data with the Home Office directly, or via third party organisations, e.g. via the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) system.

2. In cases where it is necessary for personal data to be shared with the Home Office or an associated third party organisation for the purposes of providing accommodation, [Organisation] commits to the following:

i) Explaining the purposes of the disclosure to Service Users: providing information on why the disclosure is necessary; the risks associated with the disclosure; and any alternative options available to the Service User;

ii) Seeking active and informed consent from Service Users before contacting the Home Office or associated third party organisation;

iii) Supporting Service Users to obtain independent immigration advice before any disclosure is made;

iii) Where consent is sought for disclosures to the Home Office, consent should be sought for each discrete piece of data that will be shared;

3. Organisation commits to not sharing any information with the Home Office that could identify rough sleepers, including location data e.g. sleep sites.

4. In situations where data will be shared, or stored, with an external agency or on an external database, [Organisation] will require a commitment that this information will not be passed to the Home Office.

5. [Organisation] commits to not sharing data which could identify rough sleepers or facilitate loss of rights, removal, or deportation in any forums or bodies that the Home Office has access to.

Raids and Enforcement activities:

1. [Organisation] will not comply with, or facilitate, immigration enforcement/raids being exercised without a legal warrant.

2. [Organisation] recognises that their function, and charitable objectives, are to promote the wellbeing and rights of Service’s User. To this end, [organisation] commits that if it is exposed to immigration enforcement activities, its sole role will be to support Service Users to access independent immigration advice.

Transparency and Whistleblowing:

1. [Organisation] commits to establishing a scrutiny panel, with representation from the Workplace Trade Union, that meets regularly to review the organisation’s commitments and practices towards destitute migrants.

2. If [Organisation] is made aware that data sharing with the Home Office is occurring internally, or within a forum that they attend, [organization] commits to the following:

i) Immediately notifying the scrutiny panel of the breach

ii) Challenging the Home Office’s presence at any external forum. If the Home Office is not removed, [Organisation] will withdraw from the forum.

Right to down tools:

1. [Organisation] acknowledges the rights of workers to refuse to engage in practices that they believe would endanger Service User’s or undermine the Charter.

2. [Organisation] will not pursue disciplinary action against workers that refuse to engage in practices for these reasons

3. [Organisation] respects the right of workers to join trade unions, and engage in workplace organising. [Organisation] will not victimise workers, or engage in anti-union practices.

Equality and Diversity:

1. [Organisation] acknowledges the Equality and Human Rights Commission's findings that elements of the Hostile Environment breached Equalities Law.

2. [Organisation] is committed to upholding its responsibilities under the Equalities Act (2010). To this end, [Organisation] commits to:

i) Undertaking research with migrant service user’s to better understand their needs and experiences, and to identify specific service barriers.

ii) Using this research to develop a strategy for improving support for migrant service users.





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