ADD2335 London Approach to Welcome

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2335
Date signed: 
18 March 2019
Decision by: 
Kathleen Kelly, Interim Assistant Director for Communities and Social Policy

Executive summary

This ADD seeks approval to spend £30,000 from the Social Integration budget (originally allocated under DD2240 to work on welcome) to commission research on the impact of enforcing the Government’s hostile environment policies on London’s public services. This reflects an increased need to build the evidence base on the impact of the Government’s hostile environment policies following the Windrush complications and will inform plans to progress work to support Londoners with insecure status in 2019.

Decision

That the Assistant Director of the Communities and Social Policy Unit approves:

Spending £30,000 from the Social Integration budget on consultancy services to undertake, on behalf of the GLA, research on the impact of the Government’s hostile environment policies on London’s public services.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Social integration is a core priority for the Mayor. At its core is ensuring that Londoners can be active participants in their communities and the decisions that affect them, that Londoners can have shared experiences and build relationships across difference, and that we remove the barriers and inequalities that Londoners face that would prevent social integration.

The Government’s hostile environment policies, in place since 2010, require employers, landlords, private sector workers, NHS staff and other public servants to check a person’s immigration status before they can offer them a job, housing, healthcare or other support. Landlords and employers can face fines and even criminal sanctions if they fail to do so.

The Mayor has challenged the Government on the discriminatory impact of its hostile environment policies on a number of occasions and called for the hostile environment to be scrapped including calling for the profit element of immigration application fees to be scrapped for children and those who have lived in the UK for a long time (e.g. young people who have lived here for more than half their lives). He has also called for reform of the current fee waiver system so that it is more accessible to those who need it, for certainty to be introduced to any fee increases (where there is a justifiable business case for increases), and for immigration cases based on human rights to be brought back into scope for legal aid. These policies could have alleviated much of the damage caused to those affected by the Windrush scandal and could prevent other groups from being left in a similar position in the future.

An increased evidence base of the impact of the Government’s hostile environment policies is important to support the Mayor’s advocacy on behalf of Londoners, his work to promote social integration and in particular his work to support Londoners with insecure status and therefore a research project needs to be commissioned.

Public sector workers have a professional duty to deliver support in some capacity (e.g. providing healthcare, education, or local authority housing). This piece of work will examine the extent to which the hostile environment policies prevents public sector workers from providing this support indiscriminately to all Londoners. In addition, the research will explore if/how public services are able to continue to provide support to all who require it, whilst also operating within the confines of current immigration law.

The budget proposed for this is up to £30,000 from the DD2240.

Objectives and expected outcomes

Research will involve interviews with a range of public sector professions who work to enforce or are impacted by hostile environment policies.

Key priority groups include:

• NHS employees (mix of doctors, nurses, and receptionists);
• Teachers (mix of teachers in primary schools);
• Social workers (including those who work with migrant families/adults/children);
• Local authority housing officers; and
• Police officers.

The research will explore:

• The impact hostile environment policies are having on the delivery of public services;
• Whether front-line staff’s professional and public duties are at odds with what they are asked to carry out under hostile environment policies;
• Whether front-line staff deny people services for fear of contravening hostile environment policies; and
• What good practice exists within the confines of the law.

The GLA wishes to commission 2CV Ltd from the Transport for London Market Research Framework to deliver this research. 2CV will be responsible for conducting fieldwork, using suitable methodology, and developing a report including key findings and recommendations for future research or policy developments. The agency will conduct a debrief in-person with the GLA.

Equality comments

The research will look particularly at whether some Londoners are losing out from their entitlements to public services because of the Government’s hostile environment policies.

The research will explore whether the hostile environment promotes discrimination, acts as a barrier to equality of opportunity, fosters tensions and puts up barriers to connections between communities.

The GLA will ensure the commissioned agency complies with the Equality Act duties.

Other considerations

Social integration is one of the Mayor’s key priorities and this work relates directly to his Social Integration Strategy (Policy 3.4 supporting migrants and refugees: the Mayor will challenge barriers to integration facing migrant and refugee communities).

A risk with all qualitative research is that the commissioned agency is unable to recruit relevant research participants. This is considered a low risk as 2CV have experience recruiting similar participants and have a strong track-record working with the GLA. Participant recruitment will be monitored on a weekly basis and the GLA will be kept informed throughout.

2CV are a Market Research Society accredited research agency, so that the work produced is considered impartial and of high quality. The GLA research team will ensure a timely delivery through continued contact with the commissioned agency and working to the below timeline. However, this project does not form part of a wider body of work, and is not needed for a specific deadline, therefore can be considered low-risk.

The GLA research team will work closely with 2CV to ensure materials are relevant and conducive to actionable recommendations. Where needed, the GLA research team will ask the Social Integration team for input, to ensure final outputs fully address their research needs.

Financial comments

The expenditure of up to £30,000 will be funded from the 2018-19 Social Integration Programme budget held with the Communities and Social Policy Unit.

Activity table

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract

March 2019

Announcement

March  2019

Delivery Start Date

March 2019

Research and fieldwork

April – June 2019

Delivery End Date

June 2019

Project Closure:

July 2019