22 June 2018, by Connor Johnston
Section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (sometimes referred to as the ‘Dubs amendment, after Lord Dubs, who introduced it in response to the plight of children affected by the refugee crisis) provides that:
‘The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.’
On 6 July 2018, changes to the Immigration Rules – including a new rule 352ZA – will come into effect, establishing a system for granting leave to remain to children brought to the UK pursuant to s67 Immigration Act 2016. The new rules (which can be accessed here) provide for the granting of five-year residence permits with the potential for the young person (and their dependents) to be granted indefinite leave to remain thereafter.
To complement this, on 9 July 2018, the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, SI 2018/730 will come into force, allowing this group to access mainstream housing and homelessness assistance from their local housing authority. This will be achieved by means of two new classes of eligible person – class G for the allocation of social housing and class H for homelessness assistance – which are to be added to regulations 3 and 5 of the Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006, respectively.
Notwithstanding the changes to the eligibility regulations, the Government has explained, in a letter to local housing authorities dated 18 June 2018 that although ‘there may be cases where homelessness provisions are most appropriate for some of this group’, the expectation is that young people granted leave pursuant to s67 Immigration Act 2016 will continue to be looked after and accommodated by social services in the majority of cases, before being supported to move on to independent living:
‘On arrival into the UK, children transferred under section 67 will be placed into the care of local authority children’s service and will have the same rights and access to services as all looked after children. Before this cohort formally leave the care of local authorities aged 16, 17 or on becoming an adult on their 18th birthday, they are expected to receive effective preparation for independence, resulting in planned, sustainable moves into supported or independent accommodation. They are not expected to be routinely treated as homeless when their care placements end, so the impact of this amendment on homelessness services should not be significant. However, there may be cases where homelessness provisions are most appropriate for some of this group and they should still be able to access these services.’