Coronavirus: Tower Hamlets call to lift immigration status as families are ‘too scared to get help’

Mayor calls for 'immigrant status' to be scrapped during Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor calls for 'immigrant status' to be scrapped during Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has called on the Home Secretary to change Britain’s immigration policy during the Covid-19 emergency to help families in need who are “too scared to get help”.

Mayor calls for 'immigrant status' to be scrapped during Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor calls for 'immigrant status' to be scrapped during Covid-19 crisis. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

The immigration status known as “no recourse to public funds” means they are prevented from claiming most welfare benefits, tax credits or housing assistance, with many left with no income as work places closed and prevented from claiming welfare.

“The government has rightly brought in support measures through the crisis,” John Biggs said. “But those with ‘immigrant’ status risk falling through the cracks.

“Families have been left with no income and are locked out of welfare benefits such as universal credit at the time when they’re needed most.”

Those worried about their immigration status may be too scared to get medical treatment including virus testing, potentially harming efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the mayor points out.

The mayor is calling on immigration status to be suspended during the emergency, which he says “would throw a lifeline” to many families struggling to cope.