The Windrush scandal exposed systemic Home Office failures that caused financial loss and emotional distress to many people. There are significant parallels between the Windrush nightmare and the suffering of others who experience the UK asylum and immigration system.
We have submitted our perspective on the progress that the Home Office has made against the Windrush recommendations to a parliamentary inquiry. Here’s a summary:
- Rushed and inaccessible consultation process: The New Plan for Immigration consultation ran for less than two months (24 March 2021 to 6 May 2021) and stakeholders raised concerns about the inaccessibility of the consultation to those people who are in or have been through the asylum process. Attempts to include people with lived experience in the process were an afterthought and those meetings only took place after the consultation had closed. It is therefore unclear to what extent the responses were considered when drafting the subsequent Nationality and Borders Bill, which had its first reading in parliament on 6 July 2021, only two months after the consultation ended after the consultation period ended. after the consultation period ended.
- Willingness to improve practice in LGB asylum interview training: We welcomed the Home Office consulting us on the LGB asylum interview training, which they did earlier this year.
- Raising the standard of proof isn’t in line with “a more compassionate approach”: Our concerns about the proposal in the Nationality and Borders Bill to raise the standard of proof for proving someone is LGBTQI+ have been acknowledged by this government, but we were disappointed to learn that the Home Office would only “review and update the training and guidance provided to decision-makers”. More detailed questioning will not resolve this issue.
- Risks of indirect discrimination and lack of evidence for the new Bill: The government’s Equality and Impact Assessment for the Bill agrees that there is a risk of indirect discrimination yet the only proposal is to address it is to provide “training and guidance. The Home Office already has training and guidance on different areas but this has frequently not been enough to resolve issues such as using delay in claiming asylum as a reason for disbelieving someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Furthermore, more monitoring data on LGBTQI+ people in the asylum system is needed.
- External views not always considered: Although the Home Office set up a stakeholder group to discuss and try to resolve the issues around access to legal advice for people seeking asylum, which is a positive move, we don’t believe views have been taken into consideration during the consultation process and the drafting of the Nationality and Borders Bill.
- Insufficient willingness to enact positive change: We believe that there is willingness by many within the Home Office to improve, however their ability to enact positive change seems to be constrained by those more senior to them.