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. ... 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. ... 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. ... -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 " ???