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Windrush Debacle / EU Citizens Problems Come Brexit : When Used Up , Throw Away / Banish From The Realm ??? ??? - Page 4 - Carers UK Forum

Windrush Debacle / EU Citizens Problems Come Brexit : When Used Up , Throw Away / Banish From The Realm ??? ???

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Windrush scandal continues as Chagos Islanders are pressed to " Go back. "

British passport holders say they are routinely pressed by council officers to leave the UK.

British passport holders from the Chagos Islands are being systematically targeted in a “shameful” attempt to have them removed from the UK, the Observer can reveal.

The revelations expose a fresh dimension of the UK’s hostile environment, showing that the strategy also persecutes passport-holding British citizens of colour.

A series of interviews corroborated by internal government emails reveal that the sizable community of British Chagossians in Crawley, West Sussex, have faced a lengthy campaign putting pressure on them to leave the country. They say they have felt intimidated by hostile officials.

British Chagossians say the local council offered to pay for flights to the Indian Ocean rather than provide them with housing assistance in the UK, which is potentially unlawful. Others allege that council officials aggressively told British passport holders seeking housing assistance that they should return to the Seychelles or Mauritius.

Satbir Singh, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “This is another shameful reminder that the hostile environment is regularly weaponised against people of colour, and must be scrapped to ensure all Chagossians have a right to stay and a scandal like this is never repeated.”

Clare Collier, advocacy director for the human rights group Liberty, said: “The apparent targeting of British Chagossians is deeply worrying, potentially discriminatory, and symptomatic of the mission creep of the government’s hostile environment.”

One British Chagossian described the approach of Crawley borough council as “racist” and said many had been affected. The saga began in the late 1960s and early 70s when the 2,000-strong population of the Chagos Islands was forcibly removed by Britain to allow the US military to establish a strategic air base on the largest island, Diego Garcia. Islanders were exiled in Mauritius and the Seychelles, 2,000km away, and in 2002 native Chagossians and their children were given the right to British passports. Since then more than 3,000 have emigrated to the UK, the majority settling in Crawley.

Among them was Marie, 40, who moved to Crawley from the Seychelles eight years ago with her infant son. When she approached the council for help with social housing she said she was told they would only pay for plane tickets to return to the Seychelles. “When [the housing officer] spoke to me he was angry. He said he didn’t like the Chagossians coming to the UK and asking for houses. He asked me why I came. I was asked if I wanted a plane ticket to go back. I said no, I have nowhere to go,” said Marie, whose name has been changed.

The government is acutely aware of the sensitivities surrounding the issue. Internal emails, obtained under freedom of information laws, show the Foreign Office recognises that parallels could be drawn with the Windrush scandal.

They also reveal that Foreign Office officials believed Amber Rudd, who was forced to step down as home secretary over Windrush, gave the Chagossian issue “the brush-off”.

The targeting of British Chagossians continued under Rudd’s successor, Sajid Javid.

Others interviewed by the Observer include Jonathan D’Offay, 50, a British passport holder who was just four years old when he was evicted from his home on the Chagos Islands by the British military. His mother and siblings were displaced to Mauritius while he was sent to the Seychelles with his father, who later died.

Last year he moved to the UK with his wife, Lindy, and nine-year-old daughter to make a fresh start. He settled in Crawley and after finding a job applied for housing assistance from the council because private rentals, with hefty deposits, were not affordable on his salary.

“She [the housing officer] was shouting ‘why don’t you go back to Seychelles?’” said D’Offay. “She said you’re a British passport holder, not a British citizen. I said that in the passport it says I’m a British citizen. They just wanted to get rid of us.”

He said he felt so ashamed that he considered leaving the UK. Now the family lives in a poorly insulated static caravan that gets extremely cold during the winter.

A social services report confirms the treatment of British Chagossians, stating “exploration needs to be had to assist the family returning to the Seychelles”.

The council also appears to have routinely categorised British Chagossians as “intentionally homeless”, increasing the pressure for many to leave the country. This, the council argues, is because they moved to the UK of their own accord and should return to the Seychelles and Mauritius.

The fact that they are prohibited by the UK from returning to their homeland is not acknowledged during the housing application process, several Chagossians have said.

Responses to freedom of information requests show Crawley borough council categorised 23 Chagossians with British passports as intentionally homeless between April 2015 and February this year; 22 of these cases included families with children under 18. There were three such cases in the first two months of 2019.

Bernadette Dugasse, 62, who came to the UK from the Seychelles 10 years ago and has repeatedly applied for council housing, said: “Some [housing officers] are aggressive. They asked why I can’t go back. Every time I mentioned we came from Diego Garcia, she said: ‘Excuse me, do you think because you were born on Diego Garcia you were born with a golden spoon in your hand?’”

A British Chagossian in her 40s who gave her name as Maita, moved to the UK five years ago with her two children and elderly mother. When she asked the council for assistance with housing, she felt pressured to leave the UK. “He [the housing officer] said, ‘why did you come here?’ I told him the British government stole my mum’s country,” she said. “He said, ‘why did you make yourself intentionally homeless? Why don’t you go back?’ A lot of Chagossians got this from people from the council. A lot.”

Chagossians living in the Seychelles and Mauritius say they are subject to xenophobia and denied education and employment opportunities.

UK government officials with knowledge of the Chagossian issue closely monitored the Windrush press coverage. “All over Windrush and the potential parallels that may be drawn with the Chagossian situation,” stated an email sent within the Foreign Office overseas territories department. Another confirmed the Foreign Office was aware that Chagossians were widely categorised as “intentionally homeless” and denied council housing.

On one occasion the Foreign Office even intervened to limit press coverage of the issue. During a meeting with the Chagossian community on 9 May last year, the broadcasters CNN and Al Jazeera were asked not to film by a Foreign Office press officer.

A Foreign Office spokesman denied this, saying: “Journalists were invited to stay and listen to the event, they were simply asked not to film as it was a meeting chaired by civil servants, rather than ministers. They were able to interview attendees, and they did film outside the meeting.”

A spokesperson for Crawley borough council said: “We refute allegations that our staff are aggressive or suggest that people should ‘go back’. These statements do not represent the council’s values. We endeavour to deliver the highest standards and these allegations do not reflect the caring nature of our staff who have to make difficult decisions in line with the law and our policies. We are satisfied that all functions and duties that the council undertakes towards all customers are carried out in accordance with the relevant legislation and public sector equality duties.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said £40m had been made available to support Chagossians.

Britain took control of the Chagos archipelago in 1814 and in 1965 separated the territory from Mauritius, which was a British colony until 1968.

The UK then forcibly evicted Chagossians to Mauritius and the Seychelles to make way for a US military base. The UK has since apologised for the way the evictions were conducted.

In February the International Court of Justice ruled that the UK’s sovereignty over the land should end “as rapidly as possible”. The United Nations recently voted for Britain to give up the islands.
Surge in EU citizens unfairly refused access to universal credit.

" Hostile environment " of benefits system leads EU nationals to destitution.

EU citizens are being made homeless and destitute after being turned down for universal credit despite having the legal right to reside in the UK, in what critics are calling the benefit system’s very own “hostile environment”.

Ministers are being urged to review “unfair practices” after law centres and welfare advisers reported a surge in cases in which EU nationals without UK citizenship have ended up in debt or sleeping rough because of incorrect decisions to refuse their application for universal credit that cut off their benefits overnight.

Claimants who challenge the decision typically have to wait up to 40 weeks for an appeal hearing. Welfare advisers say they win their the appeal in almost all cases, resulting in back payments of thousands of pounds.

However, during the wait for an appeal claimants struggle to pay rent as the claim for universal credit automatically ends previous awards, including housing benefit. With zero income, they experience stress, eviction and debt, and rely on family loans and food banks to survive.

Welfare advisers argue that extra complexity introduced into the benefits system to address public and media concerns about so-called “benefit tourism” mean universal credit is now wrongly penalising EU citizens who have earned permanent residence though years of work or family connections.

It is believed potentially thousands of EU citizens have been affected. One law centre said that while it saw just a handful of cases each month last autumn it was now seeing at least three a week. Several others contacted by the Guardian said they had seen a surge in cases as claimants moved onto universal credit from legacy benefits as a result of a change in circumstances, such as moving home.

“What is happening to our EU citizen clients is little short of scandalous,” said Michael Bates of the Central England Law Centre in Birmingham. “To see people who have lived and worked here for so long being told they don’t qualify for benefit when they so obviously do is a disgrace”.

Janet Coe, assistant director of Merseyside Law Centre, said it had seen a large increase in EU citizens incorrectly refused access to universal credit over the past six months. “I would absolutely say it is a hostile environment,” she said.

Malgosia Pakulska, senior welfare benefits advisor at the East European Resource Centre, said: “In my experience it looks like the default decision for EU nationals [regarding universal credit] is ‘no’. If you are able to argue your rights or you can find an organisation that is willing to help, then the decision is changed in the client’s favour. But this often takes months.”

Single people, often women, and those who are disabled or in low-paid work are disproportionately affected when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refuses universal credit to EU citizens, say welfare advisers. Claimants who lack financial savings or the language skills to pursue the tortuous process of overturning the decision are most likely to end up destitute.

The problem has grown as more EU citizens move onto universal credit from existing benefits, at which point under DWP rules they must show again they are habitually resident in the UK. Some claimants struggle to show evidence that they are eligible because they have not kept employment and benefits paperwork.

Welfare advisers say the DWP makes little effort to access its own records. These often show that the DWP had previously agreed the claimant had a right to reside in order to receive legacy benefits, and in almost all cases the circumstances informing that decision will not have changed.

“We’ve been doing welfare work for over 30 years. We’ve often seen poor decisions, but not this poor,” said Coe. “The more complex the case the less likely the DWP will make a correct decision. It is partly about how they train the staff and what appears to be a lack of will to help and assist.”

Although the welfare system has never been straightforward for EU citizens to navigate, under the old system claimants refused a particular benefit were rarely left penniless. Under universal credit, which rolls six main benefits into one payment, claimants seeking social security support are put in an “all or nothing” situation.

EU officials are said to be aware of the complexity of the rollout of universal credit.

Luisa Porritt, deputy leader of Liberal Democrat MEPs, called for an urgent review: “ The government must urgently review these unfair practices. The inhumane, hostile environment created by the Tories is a disgraceful way to treat our friends, family and neighbours.”

The DWP said it was not aware of a rise in tribunal cases involving habitual residence test decisions. Universal credit decision makers were specially trained and mentored in this area. A DWP spokesperson said: “Staff must pass rigorous training before taking these decisions and we expect them to offer a high standard of support to help people with the evidence they need to provide.”

It added: “There’s been no change in the eligibility for universal credit since 2015 and there have been no changes to access to benefits ahead of EU Exit.”

" How am I not a priority ? "

Roxana Adamczyk, 32, from Poland, has spent 13 years in Birmingham working for local firms and studying for a degree. When she applied for universal credit in January she was turned down, on the incorrect basis that she did not have a legal right to reside.

Adamczyk’s son – whose British father is estranged – had reached school age and she had moved off income support expecting universal credit would provide some support while she set up her own business – which she had been planning with job centre help.

Despite her work record, and her receipt of income support being a clear sign she had the right to reside, the DWP knocked back her application. It said did not believe she was habitually resident in the UK, and her income stopped overnight.

Attempting to rectify the error was a nightmare, said Adamczyk. “They told me they could not speed up the appeal process because I was not a priority. I said: ‘Listen, I have a small son, all my money has stopped and I could lose my house. How am I not a priority?’”

Having previously volunteered with Citizen’s Advice, Adamczyk was not daunted by universal credit’s bureaucratic maze. She made a second application in February, which was again rejected. She took steps towards another appeal, and threatened the DWP with legal action. The DWP granted the second application on review.

She received no income between January and the end of May. She is still appealing the first application.

The process has been stressful, she says: “I was able to take out an overdraft. My landlord was understanding. And my mum flew over from Poland to help,” she said. “Without that we would have been homeless.”
Government warns NHS hospitals to prepare to charge newly-arrived EU citizens for healthcare the day after a No Deal Brexit

Department of Health document says it would start "Immediately after exit day "

MailOnline understands EU nationals would have to show proof of residence.

Lib Dems accused Boris Johnson of reneging on promise to maintain status quo.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... rexit.html

Be " Fun " if all the EU countries reciprocated ... with immediate effect ???
Freedom of movement is to end on October 31 as Boris Johnson plans to introduce strict rules to keep out EU criminals and abandon Theresa May's pledge to extend current system until 2021.

Rules giving EU citizens the right to enter the UK to live, work or study will be scrapped on October 31.

Officials warned it could leave the UK facing another Windrush-style scandal.

EU citizens with the right to permanent residence will not be affected.

No 10 and Home Secretary Priti Patel are developing details of the new scheme.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... inals.html

" Reckless " plan to cut off free movement alarms EU nationals.

European citizens in UK fear they could be caught up in hostile environment policies.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/20 ... -nationals

On manors such as mine ... Worksop ... this announcement will be " Very " interesting.

I wonder what my immediate neighbours think of it ???

Nothing to make them feel more " Welcomed " ???
Windrush victim rejects " Insulting " offer of £22,000 payout.

Glenda Caesar, who was out of work for a decade, says Home Office is offering " Crumbs. "

The recipient of one of the first Windrush compensation offers has said she plans to turn it down, describing the government’s offer as insultingly low because it covers only a year’s loss of earnings even though she was out of work for a decade.

Glenda Caesar, 58, came to Britain legally as a three-month-old child in 1961 from Dominica, and has lived in the UK ever since. She was sacked from her job as an administrator in a GP’s practice in 2009 and was subsequently denied unemployment benefits.

The Home Office has calculated that she should receive £22,264 in compensation to cover loss of earnings, impact on family life and the distress caused by being wrongly detained on one occasion at Gatwick airport for a few hours.

Caesar got heavily into debt as a result of the Home Office’s refusal to believe she was living in the UK legally, and owes £10,000 in rent arrears. Caesar’s daughter, who is deaf, shared her disability benefits with her mother to help her buy food.

“I feel insulted, as if they are throwing crumbs at me,” she said. “I wasn’t able to work or get benefits for 10 years. I was selling old trainers on eBay to survive. I’m not looking for millions but this is ridiculous. I was really happy in my job and if this hadn’t happened I would still be in it now.”

Caesar submitted the compensation application in April, having filled in the form herself. Critics of the compensation scheme say it is too complicated for applicants to fill out without assistance; there is a 45-page guidance booklet to accompany the 18-page form. The Home Office has contracted some Citizens Advice offices to provide support but has not provided money for legal advice.

Holly Stow, a paralegal from the North Kensington Law Centre, which received a charitable grant to help applicants complete the form, is working with 12 Windrush claimants, of whom Caesar is the first to receive an offer.

She said she would help Caesar to challenge the offer and to gather extra evidence to substantiate her claim. “She has been unemployed for 10 years – that’s under £2,000 a year in compensation, when she was earning much more than that. This has had a profound impact on her life, at one point she was considering taking her own life, but this doesn’t even cover her employment losses,” she said.

Caesar has been offered £7,000 for the impact that the Home Office’s treatment had on her life.

The loss of earnings part of the compensation payment is capped in the small print of the scheme at 12 months, but Caesar wants to challenge that.

Shortly after the compensation scheme was announced she met Sajid Javid, who was then home secretary, in the Houses of Parliament. “We were told by Javid that there would be no cap. The government openly admitted it was their fault,” she said. “I am determined to fight. If I accept this then everyone will be offered small amounts.”

It is 20 months since the government apologised for wrongly classifying thousands of Commonwealth-born residents as illegal immigrants despite the fact they had travelled legally to the UK as children in the 1950s and 60s.

Many lost their jobs and were denied unemployment benefits, and some were made homeless, detained or deported to countries they had left as children.

The compensation scheme was announced in April and could pay out between £200m and £570m. The Home Office has not released figures about how many people have applied.

Jeremy Bloom, a lawyer with Duncan Lewis, said he had attempted to get exceptional legal aid funding to help Vernon Vanriel, a former boxer, and a number of other people to apply for compensation, but this was rejected last week.

Vanriel was stuck in Jamaica for 13 years, prevented from returning to the UK after a visit. He had lived in London for 43 years. The Legal Aid Agency ruled that no legal assistance was required to fill in the form.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are determined to right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation. The Windrush compensation scheme has been carefully designed with independent oversight to ensure that we deliver on that commitment and to make sure those who are eligible are compensated.”

The Home Office said there was an independent advice line open to anyone who needed support with their claim, and a free internal review was available for anyone unhappy with their offer.

Bloom said many of those affected did not want to turn to the Home Office for advice. “It is not reasonable to expect the Home Office to support people to make a claim when it is the Home Office that is going to be paying out and deciding the level of the claim,” he said.
Three generations of Windrush family struggling to prove they are British.

Courtney Lawrence and two-year old son face homelessness in fight over documentation.

Three generations of one Windrush-descended family are struggling to prove that they are British in a protracted fight for documentation which has left a London-born woman facing homelessness with her two-year-old son.

Courtney Lawrence, 25, was denied emergency housing in May because officials said she needed to show a passport to prove she was eligible for council support, despite the fact that she was born in the UK and has never left the country. As a result of this refusal she was forced to sofa-surf with her son for five months; she has subsequently been given emergency accommodation in a Travelodge hotel.

Both her parents arrived in the UK from the Caribbean as small children more than half a century ago, and have never formally naturalised as British citizens. They did not realise that their immigration status was uncertain until their daughter told them she was having difficulty getting council support. The citizenship of Courtney’s son, Kasion, also born in London, is now also in question.

The family’s difficulties reveal the complex problems still being experienced by many Windrush descendants 18 months after the government apologised and promised to “do right” by those affected by the Home Office scandal.

Courtney’s father, Joseph Lawrence, a retired construction worker, arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1957 when he was three, and has lived in England for the past 63 years.

Her mother, Gillian St Rose, a former special-needs teaching assistant, came in 1969 aged five from Saint Lucia, and has not left Britain in the past 50 years. Since both Jamaica and St Lucia were British colonies when they left, they travelled as British subjects on Citizens of the UK and Colonies passports. Courtney was born in London in 1994.

Until April, she and her parents had not realised that there was any problem with their immigration status. They had all watched the news about the Windrush scandal in April 2018, but did not think that they might be affected by the government’s mistreatment of thousands of Commonwealth-born citizens who were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants, despite being legally resident in the UK.

“I was very aware of it but I didn’t think for a second that it would affect me,” Courtney said. She was shocked when officials in the Newham council housing department questioned whether she was British. She showed her birth certificate and her National Insurance number to officials (which was what she had always shown prospective employers) but was told that this was not enough to prove that she was British and that she would need to bring her mother’s and father’s passports in order to prove her eligibility; neither parent has a British passport.

“They said the Home Office has said that you’re not British. They said they wouldn’t help me until I could prove I was British. It upset me. I was born here, I haven’t left the country, I’ve done good jobs here and this has never arisen,” Courtney, who has worked as a teaching assistant in nurseries and as a sales assistant, said. “This has made me depressed; I feel like I don’t know who I am.”

Courtney should be recognised as a British citizen, since she was born in the UK to British citizens, but because neither parent is currently able to prove their status as British citizens, she has struggled to persuade officials to believe her. Since changes to nationality legislation in 1983, just being born in the UK is not enough to make someone British; one or both parents must be British or have settled status in the UK. There are believed to be tens of thousands of children who were born here who were not automatically British at birth; many of them do not realise they have any immigration issues until adulthood, when they have difficulties accessing student loans or housing support.

As a result of the council’s decision to refuse her emergency housing, she had nowhere to stay. “I made it clear to them I was homeless,” she said. The council offered to refer her case to child services, but she was worried that this could result in her child being removed. “It sounded like they were offering services for my child and not for me.” Even when she presented officials with a letter explaining that she was affected by the Windrush scandal, staff still refused to believe that she was eligible for support.

Her parents were equally unaware that their immigration status was vulnerable. Since they realised that they have to regularise their status, they have both felt very anxious about whether they will find themselves targeted by immigration enforcement officers. “I’ve been waiting for someone to ring and say, ‘right, now you’re evicted’. I’ve become paranoid and been waiting to be deported,” Gillian St Rose said. “I’ve cried tears for her. I feel bad because it is my fault I didn’t get a passport – which I didn’t think I needed.”

The council changed its position in October and gave Courtney and her son an emergency room in a Travelodge hotel. She is delighted to have a room, although points out that being housed in a hotel means it is only possible to cook things which can be heated up with boiling water from a kettle (packet soup, noodles), and that the space is not appropriate for a two-year-old. She is more concerned about the passport problems facing her son, if her own immigration difficulties are not resolved.

Bethan Lant, advice manager at the charity Praxis which has been helping the family, described the risks facing the son as “serious”. “If he applies for a passport now, the Passport agency would want evidence of his mother’s status and there is currently no proof of that,” she said.

She helped Courtney Lawrence and her parents submit applications to the Windrush taskforce, and is waiting for a response. This unit was set up by the Home Office in the wake of the scandal last year, when the government was forced to apologise for criminalising thousands of legal UK residents, some of whom were wrongfully deported, detained, sacked from their jobs, evicted from their homes and denied access to healthcare.

Courtney has gathered extensive documentation from her childhood to try to prove to the Home Office that she has lived all her life in the UK. Her parents have collected photographs placing them in the UK in the 1960s; her mother has submitted a picture of herself in school uniform, details of her confirmation service, a primary school admission letter. Staff at Praxis are surprised at the length of time it is taking for the unit to respond to Courtney’s application.

Sally Daghlian, the Praxis CEO, said: “The policies that created the so-called Windrush scandal are extending across the generations and all those who do not have a British passport risk being denied essential services and left in limbo.”

The Home Office said staff would not routinely comment on individual cases. Newham councillor Charlene McLean said staff would be given more training to help them assess the eligibility of Windrush cases, as a result of the Lawrence family’s experience. “I am embarrassed this has happened and apologise to Ms Lawrence on behalf of the mayor of Newham and the council,” she said.

“We are hugely proud of all our migrant communities and that is why an important motion was passed last year to ensure the Windrush generation and their relatives would be fully supported by the council with all policies and procedures reviewed to reflect this. I am sorry this did not happen in this case. Although officers followed the law with regards to this particular case, this is not in line with usual procedure and more action could have been taken to check this resident’s UK citizenship.”

The council is now in the process of moving Courtney Lawrence into a flat.
High court says UK's £1,012 child citizenship fee is unlawful.

Court finds " Mass of evidence " that fee stops many children registering for citizenship.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... s-unlawful