As the Brexit transition period draws to a close, the UK government has devised new rules on immigration to get foreign rough sleepers off the streets.
Under the draconian immigration laws, foreign nationals without proper accommodation will be deported from the UK. Charities have warned that the move is a “huge step backwards” as most vulnerable foreign nationals may be daunted to seek help.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “If true, this appears to be a huge step backwards from a government that says it wants to end rough sleeping. Seeking to deport people for the sole reason that they are homeless will undoubtedly mean fewer people coming forward for help.
“Rough sleepers, no matter where they are from, are a symptom of a home-grown housing emergency. This emergency has been caused by the failure of successive governments to build the social homes we need. Investment in social housing will solve this emergency – not punishing people for being homeless.”
Despite concerns over the impact of deportation on homeless people, Boris Johnson and his ministers seem to be more concerned about getting rough sleepers off the streets.
According to official figures, more than 25 per cent of people on the streets are foreign nationals. The Home Office said the rough sleeping rule would be used sparingly, as the last option. When the Home Office policy to deport foreign rough sleepers was proposed in 2017, it was ruled unlawful by the high court.
The home secretary, Priti Patel, said: “For too long EU rules have forced us to allow dangerous foreign criminals, who abuse our values and threaten our way of life, on to our streets. The UK will be safer thanks to firmer and fairer border controls where foreign criminals regardless of nationality will be subject to the same criminality rules.”