Last week the government published their response to the consultation on their New Plan for Immigration, a damaging set of proposals that undermine refugee protection in the UK. The government received over 8,500 responses during the short six-week consultation period.
The consultation response summarises the feedback the government received during the consultation period. Whilst it shows that there is some support for the broad ambitions set out in the New Plan for Immigration, 75% of those who responded to the consultation said they opposed many of policies set out in the New Plan for Immigration, yet the government have decided to rapidly press ahead, with many of the most concerning proposals already forming part of the Nationality and Borders Bill. Half of the people who responded to the consultation work in the field of Asylum or Immigration policy and are likely to have expertise in this area, which appears to have been ignored by the government.
Most alarmingly, the views of people with lived experience of the asylum system appear to have been completely ignored. In particular, people with lived experience raised the lack of a ‘safe and legal’ route of entry to the UK, for those fleeing persecution, who may not have access to such routes. The government’s response fails to address this key concern.
The government’s short response to the consultation lacks detail, making it difficult to ascertain how they have meaningfully considered the 8,500 submissions, particularly given the complexity of many of the proposals contained with the New Plan for Immigration. The paper does however confirm the following:
- The proposals to create a two-tier asylum system with different rights and entitlements for refugees depending on how they arrived in the UK will be taken forward by the Nationality and Borders Bill.
- People seeking asylum seekers and those who have had their claims refused who are housed in reception centres will be provided with a package of support
- The government will not commit to an annual resettlement target as they intend to base the number of arrivals on the capacity of local authorities.
- Resettled refugees will be granted indefinite leave to remain (rather than the current 5-year leave to remain).
- The government will not take forward the proposal to allow unmarried dependent children under the age of 21 to join their refugee parents in the UK
- The government will not adopt a more favourable approach to family reunion for separated children in the EU to join their family members in the UK.
It’s incredibly disappointing to see the government publish such a short consultation response, given the complexity of the proposals outlined in the New Plan for Immigration. We are deeply concerned that the expertise of organisations working directly with people in the system and even more crucially, the views of people who have lived experience of the asylum system appear to have been completely ignored by the government, as it steam rolls ahead with the Nationality & Borders Bill.