Against the hostile environment in local government

From the Labour Campaign for Free Movement

We’re pleased to report that on 10 Jan Lewisham Deptford CLP voted by a large majority to send the following motion to London Labour regional conference. The motion was written by local migrant rights campaigners and tackles hostile environment and barbaric anti-migrant “no recourse to public funds” measures in local government. The same motion has also been proposed to Bethnal Green & Bow CLP by that constituency’s Women’s Forum – the vote in their GC meeting is next week.

If you’re a London Labour member, please contact your delegates and urge them to support it. And if you’re in another region, consider proposing something similar to your regional conference or local party – Labour councils must take a stand! Please let us know if you’re proposing a motion, and feel free to get in touch with questions or requests for help drafting policy: reach us at info@labourfreemovement.org

Read more about our other work against NRPF policies and how they deny school meals to children in need, here.

NRPF in Labour councils: reject the hostile environment, support migrants

NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) is a condition applied to most migrants, ensuring exclusion from welfare benefits. However, migrant families may present to their Council seeking help under Section 17 of the Children Act, to protect their children from destitution. This support is provided from Council budgets

Incentivised by austerity, many London councils are neglecting their legal duty, prioritising gatekeeping over children’s safety, and leaving migrant families with young children street homeless. Antagonistic practices including embedding On-Site Immigration Officers within the council deter migrants from claiming support. This practice of embedding OSIO’s in local councils was designed by the Hostile Environment Working Group to increase Data harvesting opportunities with local authorities.

Eight of the nine councils with OSIO’s are London boroughs with a Labour majority.

For decades, Labour has failed to challenge right-wing anti-migrant narratives, allowing a culture of division and scapegoating to pervade UK politics. The appropriate response to brutal Tory cuts is to put a spotlight on the government responsible, not withdraw support from society’s most vulnerable.

We call on Labour-run London councils to:

  • Immediately instigate the removal of any embedded Immigration Officers, and end collusion with Hostile Environment initiatives
  • Where there is evidence of hostile policy, immediately instigate an independent review of the NRPF Department
  • Ensure that any future policies are fair, prioritising the safeguarding of children
  • Campaign to reverse cuts made by central government
  • Lobby for central government to reimburse councils for Section 17 funding, and ultimately end all use of NRPF against migrants.

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