Branch Secretary :

Support not deport - new guidance from PILC

Undermining work with people on the streets


Updated Home Office guidance on deporting homeless people has underlined the threat to people on the streets. 


The Unite housing workers branch supported the successful campaign against unlawful deportations in the past and launched the ‘Support not Deport’ campaign last year when the government changed the law to allow the deportation of rough sleepers. Our members working in homelessness agencies oppose this disgraceful change as unethical. They also point out that it will undermine work with people on the streets.


The Home Office updated its guidance in April to state that those individuals who were refusing support and engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour could be deported. This approach will do nothing to reduce homelessness and will merely scare vulnerable migrants away from receiving support.


Information sharing


Enforcement of this rule depends on homeless organisations, local authorities and the police either sharing information directly with the home office or referring them to the Home Office’s misleadingly called the Rough Sleeper Support Service (RSSS). The RSSS was revealed in 2019 to be sharing data with enforcement teams so they could target those found with no legal status.



Although the guidance was initially denounced across the Homelessness sector it was notable that no organisation refused to implement the ruling.  In March of this year a piece of investigative journalism by Liberty discovered that both Camden as a local authority and two homeless organisations that operate in Camden, Single Homeless project (SHP) and Change Grow Live (CGL), were co-operating with the RSSS. This is despite the borough of Camden, SHP and CGL all initially condemning the guidance.


Our branch has experience of organisations paying lip service to this. Reps in St Mungo’s continually raised this point with management.  They were told time and time again this was not true, until St Mungo’s was forced into an apology following legal action. Then senior management conducted a whitewash internal report which absolved themselves of blame and failed to mention Unites warnings.


Public Information Law Centre information sheet


To protect the rights of homeless migrants and to prevent senior management from attempting to pin the blame on our members we have worked with other unions and homeless campaigning groups to create the Support not Deport charter. This commits organisations to work alongside their staff and trade unions to ensure that staff are fully trained to understand how the home office collects information on rough sleepers and to ensure that organisations do not facilitate deportations under this rule.  


The Public Interest Law Centre have anow produced a useful info sheet on who is covered under this new ruling and how it is enforced.


Union branches, Labour movement and community organisations have signed up to the charter  - if you would like a speaker from the campaign do contact us.


Jack Jeffery, Secretary Unite housing workers LE111


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