Immigration and housing in Brighton

The difficulties facing refugees and other migrants seeking decent and secure accommodation are exacerbated in Brighton particularly,  and the South East generally, due to the hugely inflated rents which are amongst the highest in the U.K. outside London   Brighton and Hove wishes to be a progressive, diverse and welcoming city.  However an obvious consequence of excessive rental costs is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for people on low incomes – which includes many migrants – to move to live here. The likely knock on effect is that Brighton will increasingly become the preserve of the privileged and those on above average incomes.  The wonderful benefits of living in a truly diverse city with the ‘patchwork quilt’ vibrancy of interconnected customs and culture will be less likely to occur.

On a personal level,  unaffordable rents can have very sad consequences for migrants wishing to settle in the city in order to be reunited with close or extended family, friends or members of their community. Often the authorities will insist that individuals and families move to different parts of the country where they are frequently left isolated and without any informal network of support.

 

A quick breakdown of the rules:

  • People who are claiming asylum, in general, have access to housing from the Home Office. They have no choice where to live and it is almost always well away from the south-east. They have no right to work.
  • People whose asylum claim has been rejected and whose appeal rights have been exhausted have no access to any state support at all or the right to work. Strangely, some of those people still cannot leave the UK due to the fact they are Stateless and they have nowhere to go!
  • People who have the right to be here for a period of limited duration (although that period can be pretty long) rarely have the right to state support.
  • People who have indefinite leave to remain but on the grounds that somebody else is guaranteed to support them, have no right to state support.
  • People who are not ‘habitually resident’ in the UK have no right to state support. What ‘habitual residence’ means is a little bit vague.
  • People from the EU currently only have the right to support as long as they are ‘economically active’. Their situation may change with Brexit.

The net result is that there are homeless migrants in Brighton who have no real hope of finding a house. Asylum seekers might prefer to be homeless here then dispersed away from their networks of support. You might be in Brighton because you have a partner here, but then that relationship ends. If so, you’ll have a visa that gives you a time-limited stay and nowhere to live. A French person whose health deteriorates rapidly is going to end up unable to work and unable to pay for the housing. It is a very harsh system which reflects Theresa May’s stated aim to create a ‘hostile environment’.

A small plug for our project, we are asking people to give as little as £1 a month – although hopefully a little bit more than that – in the hope that we can generate the income to provide secure accommodation for people facing the challenges described above. If you want to sign up click here.

For information on the rules on state support and immigration see:

http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06847
http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01909
http://www.housing-rights.info/index.php

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