The Home Office has refused to give detailed responses to repeated parliamentary questions from Lib Dem Layla Moran on the Rough Sleeping Support Service, despite the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon tabling multiple follow-up questions in an effort to receive clarification.
The Rough Sleeping Support Service has recently received national attention for its use of data from homelessness and refugee charities to run immigration checks on rough sleepers. Layla has consistently campaigned for a more compassionate approach to be taken to rough sleeping and homelessness in Oxfordshire and nationwide, having led calls for the Vagrancy Act to be scrapped, and opposing Oxford City Council’s homelessness fines.
Layla has asked 11 parliamentary questions so far on the issue, with the Government still refusing to provide exact numbers for how many charities and local authorities it has worked with on the scheme.
Despite saying in an answer to one of Moran’s questions that “[t]he service is not an enforcement approach”, the staff members who operate the RSSS were reassigned “from within Immigration Enforcement” at the Home Office.
Furthermore, the Home Office did not reveal how many cases were referred to and prioritised by the RSSS from elsewhere, nor how many status checks the scheme has conducted, because they “do not form part of the body of published official immigration statistics”.
The department also said that it could not show how many deportations had resulted from information supplied under the RSSS from charities and councils.
Commenting, Layla Moran said:
“These answers from Caroline Nokes were inadequate and evasive.
“The Rough Sleeping Support Service is a continuation of the Government’s hostile environment policy, and I think it says it all that it is being run from within Immigration Enforcement at the Home Office.
“The Home Office argues that this cannot be done with their statistics, but then what is the point of having a scheme where you can’t accurately measure its performance?
“I and the Liberal Democrats demand better. We need to end the hostile environment and take a compassionate approach to rough sleeping and homelessness in our society. That must include scrapping the cruel Vagrancy Act.”