Lambeth council will not cooperate with Home Office on immigration

school student making speech
St Gabriel’s College student Nora Serrieh welcomes refugee families to Lambeth at a ceremony in 2016

Lambeth council last night (21 July) voted to refuse to collaborate with the Home Office on new government immigration rules on rough sleeping.

They make rough sleeping grounds for refusing or cancelling a person’s leave to remain in the UK.

The #SupportdontDeport campaign, which the council voted to back, says the new policy will drive people who are already vulnerable – including victims of modern slavery – away from the support they need and will hamper efforts to end rough sleeping. 

The council also decided to refuse to allow a Home Office civil servant to be “embedded” in its “no recourse to public funds” service.

The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 states that a person will have “no recourse to public funds” if they are “subject to immigration control”.

This means they have no entitlement to the majority of welfare benefits, including income support, housing benefit and a range of allowances and tax credits.

In a long motion, the council reaffirmed its policy to welcome refugees and pledged to:

  • Ensure no child in Lambeth is denied free school meals because of their immigration status
  • Work with Lambeth’s NHS services to ensure undocumented migrants can safely use GPs and receive Covid vaccines.

Since 2016 Lambeth has welcomed 28 families – almost 120 people – of Syrian, Iraqi and Sudanese backgrounds.

They have received support from the Single Homeless Project which the council commissions.

The council also voted to

  • Continue to support refugee families from Syria and other areas of conflict to settle in the borough
  • Continue to support unaccompanied child asylum seekers and to live up to the pledge it made to resettle 20 child refugees.
Martin Tiedemann

Brixton Hill councillor Martin Tiedemann, who proposed the motion, said: “I’m proud that Lambeth has recommitted itself to be a place that welcomes refugees and migrants, offering sanctuary to those who need it and has underlined our refusal to work with the Tories’ ‘hostile environment’.

“While the Conservatives have halted support for child refugees, left thousands of European citizens in limbo and cut aid to the poorest around the world, Lambeth Labour is working to ensure undocumented migrants have access to vaccines and offering children sanctuary from conflict, climate change and Covid.

“For migrant families like my own, that commitment means a great deal.”

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth council cabinet member for equalities and culture, said: “Lambeth remains a diverse welcoming and tolerant borough, aware of the terrible conflicts which force families to flee their homes in fear, seeking asylum and a safe place to call home.

“We will recognise their trauma and not question their mode of travel.

“We will continue to provide support, holding up our commitment to unaccompanied child asylum seekers.”