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Public dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of immigration is at its highest level since before the EU referendum, according to new data from the Immigration Attitudes Tracker from Ipsos and British Future, which has tracked public attitudes to immigration since 2015.

The findings are set out in a new report, Immigration and the election: Time to choose, published by British Future.

Graph showing very high levels of dissatisfaction with the government on immigration since 2015

Some 69% of the public say they are dissatisfied with the way the current government is dealing with immigration and just 9% are satisfied. Only 16% of current Conservative supporters – and just 8% of those who voted Conservative in 2019 – are satisfied with the government’s handling of the issue.

Reasons for dissatisfaction vary according to people’s politics. The number one reason given is ‘not doing enough to stop channel crossings’, chosen by 54% of those who are dissatisfied, with 51% also saying it is because ‘immigration numbers are too high’. Yet 28% of those dissatisfied say it’s because of ‘creating a negative or fearful environment for migrants who live in Britain’ and for 25% the reason is ‘not treating asylum seekers well’.

For Labour supporters who are dissatisfied with the government, ‘Creating a negative or fearful environment for migrants’ (42%) is as important as ‘Not doing enough to stop channel crossings’ (41%).

Immigration and the election

When we do finally go to the polls later this year, will this be an ‘immigration election’ asks the report? Only for a minority. Around half of Conservatives (53%) say the issue is important in deciding how they will vote in the coming election, but it still comes after after the NHS (57%) and cost of living (55%) as their third most important issue. For Labour voters immigration ranks 12th in importance, with half as many saying it matters in deciding their vote (27%).

A numbers game?

In a period of high net migration, the new tracker survey finds that 52% of the public now supports reducing immigration (up from 48% in 2023). Four in ten people do not want reductions: 23% would prefer numbers to stay the same and 17% would like them to increase. Support for reducing immigration is still significantly lower than in 2015, the first year of the tracker, when 67% of the public backed reductions.

Attitudes differ significantly by politics. Seven in ten Conservative supporters (72%) want immigration numbers reduced. But most Labour supporters don’t, preferring immigration numbers to either remain the same (32%) or increase (20%), while 40% want reductions.

However, even those who want lower numbers find it difficult to identify what migration they would cut. Almost half of the 337,240 work visas granted in 2023 were ‘Skilled Worker – Health and Care’ visas. The tracker finds that 51% of the public would like the number of doctors coming to the UK from overseas to increase (24% remain the same, 15% decrease); 52% would like the number of migrant nurses to increase (23% remain the same, 15% decrease) and 42% would like more people coming to the UK from overseas to work in care homes (27% remain the same, 18% decrease).

For a range of other working roles, support for not reducing immigration numbers is higher than that for reducing them. Less than 3 in 10 people support reducing numbers of seasonal fruit and vegetable pickers, construction labourers, restaurant & catering staff, teachers, academics, computer experts and lorry drivers coming to the UK. When allocating work visas for immigration, the public would prefer the government to prioritise migration to address shortages at all skill levels (52%) than attracting people for highly skilled roles (26%).

Support for reducing the number of international students coming to the UK has increased by 4 points, with around a third of people (35%) preferring numbers to be reduced. But most of the public (53%) does not want to reduce student numbers. A third would prefer numbers to remain the same (34%) and a further fifth (19%) would like to see them increase.

The politics of immigration

As the UK heads towards a General Election, the tracker finds that the Labour Party is more trusted than the Conservatives to have ‘the right immigration policies overall’. Reform UK is slightly more trusted than the Conservatives but less trusted than Labour. Some 22% of the public says they trust the Conservative Party to have ‘the right immigration policies overall’, while 68% say they don’t trust the party. For Labour, 33% trust the party while 51% say they don’t. And 26% of the public says they trust the Reform UK Party on immigration, while 47% say they don’t – a similar score to the Lib Dems (trust 23%, distrust 50%).

Among leading politicians tested, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had the highest ‘distrust’ score, with 70% of the public saying they do not trust the PM on immigration and 21% saying they do. Some 57% say they distrust Labour leader Keir Starmer on immigration, with 31% saying they trust him. Nigel Farage is distrusted by 59% of the public on immigration and trusted by 29% – making him slightly more trusted than former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who is distrusted by 63% and trusted by 22% of the public.

Refugees, asylum and Rwanda

On asylum, the tracker finds that 47% of the public supports the Rwanda scheme and 29% are opposed to it. Opinion is divided by politics, with 75% support among Conservatives (and 10% opposition) compared to 31% support among Labour supporters and 47% opposition.

Only 32% of the public thinks the Rwanda scheme is likely to reduce the number of people trying to enter the UK without permission to seek asylum, while 56% think it is unlikely to do so.

Because the Rwanda scheme has often been mis-described, for instance as an offshoring scheme, the tracker tested which of three versions of the Rwanda policy people prefer:

  • 32% chose the description of the government’s actual Rwanda scheme: “Remove asylum seekers to Rwanda to claim asylum there, without first assessing the claim.”
  • 25% preferred a different version of the Rwanda scheme to the one that the government is pursuing: “Assess these asylum claims in the UK first, to only consider removals to Rwanda for those whose asylum claims fail”.
  • 26% chose “Do not send anyone to Rwanda, regardless of how they arrived.”
  • 5% chose “none of these” and 12% “don’t know”.

Overall, more people still think immigration has a positive impact on Britain (40%) than a negative impact (35%) though positivity has fallen slightly, by 3 points, since the last tracker in 2023 and from its March 2020 peak of 48%.

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 3,000 adults online aged 18+ across Great Britain between 17-28 February 2024. Data are weighted to reflect the population profile. All polls are subject to a range of potential sources of error.

Download and read the full report here

This Migration Observatory briefing examines the UK’s ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition, which applies to people on temporary immigration statuses, and prevents access – in most cases – to state-funded welfare. It examines the likely number of migrants that have the NRPF condition attached to their immigration status and their characteristics, including how many are at risk of destitution.

Key points:

  • At the end of 2022, about 2.6 million people held visas that typically have NRPF, substantially up from previous years.
  • At the end of 2022, the top nationalities in visa categories with NRPF were India (665,000), China (316,000), Nigeria (268,000), Pakistan (147,000) and Hong Kong (121,000).
  • EU citizens who moved to the UK after 31 December 2020 under the new immigration system (84,000 at the end of 2022) have NRPF attached to their status.
  • All residents with irregular immigration statuses are subject to the NRPF condition. There are no official statistics about the size of this group, which is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Among recently arrived migrants – the group most likely to have NRPF – just under 100,000 live in economically vulnerable households (where all working-age adults are inactive, unemployed, or in low or low-medium skilled jobs) with dependent children.
  • Recently arrived migrants from Bangladesh (27%), Pakistan (21%), and Iran (18%) have the highest likelihood of living in a deprived household.
  • An estimated 10% of non-EU citizens with less than five years of residence receive public benefits (which is allowed e.g. if they are a refugee or are in a family with a UK citizen or person with recourse to public funds), compared to 25% of UK nationals.
  • There were 2,500 successful applications to lift the NRPF condition per year in 2021 and 2022, which is comparable to pre-Covid years.

Find out more about NRPF and download the briefing.

This new report from Migration Exchange (MEX) presents a comprehensive review of the UK refugee and migration sector and independent funding landscape, looking at areas of growth and focus since 2020, with insights on key thematic areas.

The sector in 2023 – key stats

Analysis of Charity Commission data and survey results revealed interesting findings on the size, focus and resources of the sector, including:

  • The refugee and migration sector includes registered charities, other formally constituted not-for-profit organisations, a wide range of voluntary and community-based organisations, and international organisations.
  • There has been an increase of 137 new charities (24%) established between 2020 to 2022 which work on refugee and migration issues.
  • Funding to the sector increased significantly (51%) between 2020 and 2022 – largely due to emergency funding in response to Covid-19. However there are concerns about whether this funding level can and will be sustained.
  • Resources to the sector are heavily concentrated in large organisations. In fact just 3% of charities in the core sector control 44% of the funding.
  • NGOs remain largely dependent on trusts and foundations for funding.

The sector in 2023 – key priorities

Drawing from interviews and consultation workshops, the report presents deeper analysis and suggested actions around six key priority areas:

Adapting to external challenges and crises

Funding for more systematic and strategic collaboration, including horizon scanning, shared funding infrastructure and legal advice, can strengthen our power to go beyond rapid response.

Financial sustainability and funding

By investing more in those doing ground-breaking work where the need is great, independent funders could spread their support more equally. A shared approach to growing the overall funding pot would also help build a solid foundation for the future.

Racial justice, power and lived experience

Real change will only happen when those with power reflect deeply on the lasting impact of colonialism and racial injustice, and start distributing resources differently. Additionally, involving people with lived experience of migration is a vital step towards achieving fundamental, inclusive and collective change.

Employee wellbeing and leadership

By urgently investing in collective care, leadership development, and fair work and pay policies, people will feel safe and protected.

Influencing and campaigning

To prepare for the 2024 General Election, we can benefit from building wider alliances that link frontline expertise with political influence and power.

Alliances and collaboration

Solidarity with people on the move is the bond that connects organisations across our sector. But we need more time and new opportunities to deepen collaborations and broaden our alliances. By pooling our power and expertise we can present a united front on the issues that matter most, and create a better future for everyone.

Today, IPPR has launched its briefing paper, Understanding the Rise in Channel Crossings. This paper outlines the reasons for the increase in people crossing the Channel by small boats in recent years to help form a firmer basis for a humane and effective policy response. IPPR’s research has found that:

In the last five years, the number of people crossing the English Channel in small boats has risen sharply. The vast majority of those arriving claim asylum when they get to the UK.

These Channel crossings pose serious risks to the safety of those making the journey, and it can be deadly.

The UK government has responded to the rise in Channel crossings with a series of highly controversial and contested policy announcements.  In this briefing paper, IPPR aims to explore the reasons for the increase in small boat arrivals to help form a firmer basis for a humane and effective policy response.

This briefing draws on interviews with key experts and stakeholders – including those with lived experience of crossing the Channel in small boats – as well as analysis of Home Office data. It sets out some of the potential factors explaining the recent rise, gives an overview of the government’s approach up till now and assesses its potential implications. It also sets out some potential ways forward, which IPPR intends to explore and assess in more detail in its final report for this project.

Public attitudes to immigration are more positive than negative and most people would now support British businesses being allowed to recruit from overseas to address staff shortages, according to a new report.

The report  Immigration: a changing debate, by the independent thinktank British Future, draws on the latest findings from Ipsos MORI research that has tracked changing public attitudes to immigration across twelve waves of research since 2015. It finds:

  • Two thirds of the public (65%) agree that employers should be allowed to recruit from overseas for any job where there are shortages.
  • 77% of the public say recruitment from overseas should be allowed for positions in key services such as health and social care. Just 13% say it should not be allowed. Support rises to 86% among people aged over 65.
  • 67% say recruitment from overseas should be allowed for temporary seasonal work in sectors such as fruit-picking and hospitality. Just 21% say it should not be allowed.
  • Most of the public (55%) also support recruitment from overseas for lower-skilled jobs that are hard to fill from within the UK. Three in ten (30%) say it should not be allowed.
  • Nearly twice as many people favour an approach to immigration that prioritises the government having control over who can settle in the UK, whether or not that reduces numbers (44%) over a system that is focused on keeping immigration numbers low (24%).

This year sees a new balance in immigration attitudes. Roughly twice a year since 2015 this survey has asked the public if they would prefer immigration to increase, decrease or remain at its current level.  The number of people who want to reduce immigration is now at its lowest level in the series (45%), while more people than ever before would be happy for immigration to increase (17%). For the first time, the proportion of people wanting to reduce immigration (45%) is on a par with the 46% who either want to keep it at current levels (29%) or higher (17%).

The research also notes a continuing trend of the public feeling that immigration has a positive impact (46%) more than a negative impact (28%) on Britain.  When the tracker survey was conducted in February 2015, by comparison, it found only 35% were positive and 41% were negative.

In a new report released today IPPR sets out a blueprint for preventing a repeat of the Windrush scandal and ending the hostile environment.

According to the report ‘Beyond the Hostile Environment’ The Home Office is in a state of policy paralysis after years of overseeing the deeply flawed hostile environment policy, according to a major new report from the Institute for
Public Policy Research (IPPR). Extensive “root and branch” reform is now needed to move on from the policy and rehabilitate the department, according to the think tank.

In a comprehensive analysis of the hostile environment published in September, IPPR found the policy had forced people into destitution, fostered racism and discrimination, and was a driving factor in the emergence of the Windrush scandal. The policy also failed in its own terms, with no discernible impact on encouraging individuals without immigration status to voluntarily leave the UK. While calls for reform have been made across the political spectrum – most prominently by Wendy Williams’ Windrush Lessons Learned review – this report is the first to set out a blueprint for a new institutional and policy approach to ending the hostile environment for good.


To transform the government’s approach to immigration enforcement, the report calls for the repeal of many of the legislative building blocks behind the hostile environment – including key parts of the Immigration Acts of 2014 and 2016. At its heart, the hostile environment is underpinned by the checks, charges and datasharing measures carried out by employers, landlords, and frontline workers. IPPR found these provisions had effectively outsourced immigration enforcement – exposing migrants to potential racial discrimination and often mistakenly impacting people with legal immigration status. The policy was also found to have deterred some from seeking vital police or
medical assistance when needed. In the midst of a pandemic, this is particularly troubling, the report notes.

The think tank calls for the legislation to be reformed or replaced by provisions that shift the legal responsibility for immigration checks back to government, and guarantee safe access to services for all UK residents. The report argues that one practical step to do this would be repealing the ‘right to rent’ provisions that place the burden of checks on landlords.

IPPR also calls for the government to immediately introduce a ‘firewall’ between public services and immigration enforcement, so that individuals without immigration status can safely seek urgent medical, social and law enforcement help without fear of their details being shared with the Home Office.


The report calls for considerable institutional and cultural reform at the Home Office to instil three core principles into the department: making decisions scrupulously based on evidence; rooting out racism and discrimination; and being subject to scrutiny from those with direct experience of the immigration system. Building on the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned review and the Home Office comprehensive improvement plan, IPPR proposes that the Home Office:

• Strengthens its evidence-based approach by expanding its Analysis and Insight Directorate to regularly assess the impact of all proposed and existing policies on affected groups.
• Tackles discrimination further by regularly assessing policy and operations to identify discriminatory patterns and enact action plans with deadlines for change.
• Creates a new independent body responsible for migrants’ rights to investigate complaints, advocate for, and safeguard the rights of migrants.

The think tank proposes introducing simplified pathways to legal residency for eligible people currently living in the UK without immigration status. The report says the current system is convoluted, expensive and difficult to access; and warns that for people in the most vulnerable circumstances, this leaves them in a state of limbo – in particular need of support, yet unable to access it.

IPPR recommends that the Home Office develop two clear pathways to legal residency to improve the system:

• The long residence route – a simplified application for eligible individuals who have lived in the UK for many years. This would offer indefinite leave to remain, rather than ‘limited leave to remain’ that requires a costly frequent renewal.
• The vulnerable situation route – to ensure indefinite leave to remain for people in vulnerable situations, including victims of trafficking, modern slavery and domestic abuse. The hostile environment has made it harder for people in these situations to access the support they need, according to the report.

Taken together, these proposals aim to address the most damaging impacts of the hostile environment, while also allowing the Home Office to improve its own functioning and reputation, according to the report.
Marley Morris, IPPR Associate Director, said: “As our research and the findings of other reviews have revealed, the immigration enforcement system in the UK is in need of root and branch reform. “Not only has the hostile environment precipitated the Windrush Scandal, but it has also failed to even achieve its own stated aims of encouraging individuals to voluntarily leave. To learn the lessons from the Windrush scandal, the home secretary should take the opportunity to tackle head-on the adverse impacts of the hostile environment and overhaul the Home Office directorate responsible for its enforcement.”

Amreen Qureshi, IPPR Researcher, said: “This reform package would have wide-ranging benefits for migrants, the Home Office and the wider public. Minimising the role of employers, landlords and frontline workers in administering immigration checks and data-sharing would help to both reduce the risks of racial discrimination and relieve the burden of immigration control from ordinary citizens.

“Changes to Home Office policies and culture won’t happen overnight, but that shouldn’t mean the department just sits in policy paralysis. As the UK’s immigration system is reshaped post-Brexit, now is the time to institute sweeping reforms to prevent a repeat of the Windrush scandal.”

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust have respectively made a £200,000 and £100,000 six year, interest free loan, to Refuaid for its Equal Access Loan Programme. Refuaid is an organisation supporting access to language tuition, education, finance, and meaningful employment. The Equal Access Loan Programme provides interest-free loans to people with UK refugee status who are unable to pay for the cost of completing the licensing or training needed to work in their professional field in the UK. The £300,000 investment made by the two Foundations was co-designed with RefuAid to enable greater impact: for the first 4 years of the investment term, loan repayments can be redrawn and recycled to be re-lent to new borrowers. The maximum Equal Access Loan amount is £10,000.

Loans may be used for:

• Short-term (2 years or less) training
• Exam fees with a professional governing association
• Travel expenses to and from an exam
• Qualification assessments
• Professional association fees
• Books and course materials
• Living allowance during study time
• Other related expenses

In addition to their £200,000 investment, Esmée Fairbairn have also provided a grant of £55,000 to RefuAid to enable the hiring of a Placement Lead to launch RefuAid’s new recruitment arm. The recruitment arm will mean that RefuAid can secure work placements and build partnerships with a range of employment partners to match their clients with and improve their outcomes. In parallel, this recruitment activity will generate earned income for the organisation which will ultimately increase RefuAid’s sustainability and long term impact.

Ben Smith, Head of Social Investment at Esmée Fairbairn Foundation said of the deal “we are incredibly proud to be working with RefuAid. The opportunities the organisation is affording people through the Equal Access Loan Programme is life transforming and RefuAid is a great example of an investment which aligns with our new strategy and for which a tools in the box approach (social investment and grant) is valuable. Anna and Tamsyn are inspirational individuals who are doing outstanding work. We are pleased to have invested alongside Barrow Cadbury Trust, and this investment is, in turn, built on the learning created by Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Comic Relief’s investment in 2018.”

Kumar Ghosh, Social Investment Manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust commented “we are delighted to be supporting Refuaid’s Equal Access Loan Programme, alongside Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, enabling refugees to use their skills to succeed in the UK. This investment ties in with one of the key strands of the Trust’s work – migration.“

Anna Jones, Co-Founder of RefuAid added “we’re thrilled to have received the £300,000 loan from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Barrow Cadbury Trust to support the Equal Access Loan programme. The loan will support people who’ve been forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution back into the careers they know and love with many of the individual loans being made to doctors who, as a result, are able to work within the NHS.”

The UK should take a more positive and welcoming approach to citizenship, with Brexit presenting an opportunity for a major overhaul of citizenship policy, according to the report of a year-long independent inquiry into citizenship policy chaired by Alberto Costa MP.

It’s an approach that would reflect the public consensus on the issue, with ICM polling finding two-thirds (67%) of the public in agreement that it is a good thing when migrants who are settled in the UK long-term decide to take citizenship. Just 8% of people disagree.

The final report of the inquiry, Barriers to Britishness,‘  finds that citizenship is prohibitively expensive, placing it out of reach to frontline key workers who want to become British. For the price of UK citizenship, the report states, one could become a citizen of Australia, Canada, France and the United States. The report calls on the Government to review the current costs.

Families in particular are penalised, with a family of four needing to spend up to £5,000 to become British citizens. The inquiry recommends that the Government makes citizenship by registration free of charge, a move that would mainly affect children. It should also allow children born in the UK to be British automatically by birthright – a return to the policy that was in place before Britain joined the EEC.

Public attitudes research by ICM for the inquiry found that 61% of the public would support birthright citizenship for children born in the UK. Just 13% of people disagree (2).

Citizenship ceremonies should also be revitalised, becoming higher-profile, public-facing and celebratory events, held in iconic locations like Wembley Stadium, Edinburgh Castle or Shakespeare’s birthplace, and with members of the local community invited to welcome new arrivals.

The report also recommends that each year her Majesty the Queen and the Prime Minister should also hold a high- profile citizenship ceremony where British citizenship is awarded to a select number of people who have been outstandingly brave or made a great contribution to life in the UK, either as an individual or because they represent a particular group whose contribution is valued, for example NHS staff and other key workers.

Read the report  or download the executive summary .

Alberto Costa MP, who chaired the inquiry, said:

“For too long it’s been hard to tell if UK citizenship policy was trying to encourage people to become British or put them off.

“Our starting point should be that it’s great when people become citizens and we should celebrate it when they do.

“Becoming British is good for new citizens, who get added security and access to rights; and good for our society as a whole, as a common bond that connects us.

“We should remove some of the needless barriers to becoming British, while keeping the strict requirements that show British citizenship is special and valuable.

“The process shouldn’t be so complex that you need a lawyer to apply. And it shouldn’t be so expensive that it’s out of reach to a key worker, or to children who were born here.

“At the end of the process when people become citizens, we should welcome them and celebrate people becoming British – not hide the events away in council buildings. High-profile ceremonies at Old Trafford, Edinburgh Castle or the Palace of Westminster would send a clear message that this is something we can all be proud of.”

Dr Alexandra Bulat of the3million, who recently became a British citizen herself, said:

“It is great to see that the British public is so supportive of citizenship reform, especially at a time when many EU citizens chose to become British.

“Successive governments have made this process extremely costly and bureaucratic – and the high fees and obscure requirements are hard to find and even harder to understand.
“The UK Government has a huge opportunity to build a positive vision for citizenship. A global Britain needs global Brits.”

Fraser Nelson, Editor of The Spectator and member of the Inquiry panel, said:

“Britain is finally leaving the EU and the Government has finalised its new, points-based immigration system. Now is the time to look at how we go about offering citizenship – and come up with a positive, welcoming agenda for those who seek to make their lives here. In doing so, Boris Johnson would send precisely the right message about Global Britain, both at home and abroad: that we are proud of our island story and welcome those who wish to be part of it.” 

Paul Sathianesan, Civic Ambassador for the London Borough of Newham, who has presided over many citizenship ceremonies welcoming new citizens to the UK, said:

“It is a very special moment when one becomes a British citizen – much more than just getting a passport. For me it has meant security and an opportunity to serve the community in the place I now call home.

“On a national level I think we could find ways to make citizenship ceremonies more of a celebration – not just to welcome new arrivals but also to celebrate who we are as a society.

“An annual event, where honorary citizenship is awarded to someone who has done great service to the UK, would help shine a light on the importance of citizenship.  At this extraordinary time the obvious choice would be one or more of the many frontline NHS workers of migrant background who have worked so selflessly during the Covid crisis.”

The Government has committed to review the English language requirements for citizenship and also to review the content of the Life in the UK test, which people must pass to gain citizenship. The inquiry is critical of the Life in the UK test, which it says contains too much trivia and does not encourage debate and dialogue about our shared values. The test and Life in the UK guide also fails to offer any message of welcome to aspiring citizens: the inquiry notes that Canada’s guide to citizenship opens with a message of welcome from Her Majesty the Queen; while our monarch does not appear in the UK version until page 121. The inquiry proposes that the test is reviewed.

British Future, which acted as secretariat to the inquiry, held two deliberative events as inputs to the inquiry, in Southampton and Edinburgh, bringing together ‘new Britons’ who had attained citizenship recently and ‘old’ Britons who were born British. Together they did a version of the ‘Life in the UK’ test and discussed its content, together with issues such as how much citizenship should cost, how long someone should be required to have lived in the UK to be eligible, and the purpose of citizenship ceremonies.

Justice Together – a new initiative aiming to create a fairer and more accessible UK immigration system – has opened its first grant round for applications to become advice and influencing partners.  The initiative was launched earlier this year, with £9m initial funding from a collaboration of 11 independent funders, and is expected to continue its ambitious programme of work for a decade.  Justice Together will award grants to fund free or low-cost specialist
immigration advice and representation (OISC level two and above); and for influencing work at a national and local level. Influencing grants can cover a wide range of activities including strategic litigation, research, public affairs, alliance building between advice providers and grassroots groups, community lawyering and community organising.

Laura Redman, Acting head of Justice Together, says: ‘Justice Together will ensure people who use the immigration system can access justice fairly and equally, so that they can get on with their lives. Through grant-making and collaboration, the initiative will connect lived experience, frontline advice and influencing strategies to create lasting change.

‘There are many amazing people pushing for access to justice in the UK’s flawed immigration system, but the challenges they and their organisations face are huge. Justice Together funders will be partners for the long-term, pooling new resources to increase impact and work to create a fairer system.’

Justice Together’s strategy includes creating a ‘community of impact’, which centres people with lived and learned experience of the immigration system; and ensures influencing work is informed by the expertise and experiences of frontline advice agencies. A core value is to ’embed an anti-racist approach in all our work and support those we work with to do the same’.

Dami Makinde, a member of Justice Together’s grants committee and leading social justice campaigner, said:
“I hope that Justice Together will be transformational by helping to fill the gap in expert immigration advice. As someone who was undocumented for numerous years, my desire is that more people will be helped quickly and appropriately so they can begin to look towards a brighter future.”

The deadline for round one advice grants is 5pm on 17 February 2021, with awards expected to be announced in May 2021. Advice grants in the first round will be available to organisations serving communities in three areas where Justice Together believes our funding will have an immediate effect: North East of England; North West of England; and Scotland. Justice Together expects to fund two to three advice partners in each area for an initial three-year grant. Later advice grant rounds will be available in all regions throughout the four nations of the UK.
Influencing grants will also become available for both national and local work from the 8 December 2020.
Justice Together was announced in February 2020, before the pandemic, and COVID-19 has made its work more urgent and necessary.


Amid all the confusion surrounding Brexit and whether the United Kingdom was going to crash out without a deal with the European Union, EU Member States went from planning for the future status for their residents who are UK nationals post-Brexit, then switched gears to no-deal scenario preparation and back again after a withdrawal agreement was struck with a transition period through 31 December 2020. Now, the world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The citizens’ rights portion of the withdrawal agreement sets out the framework for continued legal residence for EU nationals in the UK and UK citizens in the remaining EU Member States, as well as their families. Governments can, however, unilaterally decide to require EU and UK nationals living on their territory to apply for a new residence status, and in some cases failure to comply by the imposed deadline (30 June 2021 for most states) will result in the loss of lawful immigration status and the associated rights.

The latest Migration Policy Institute Europe research assessing planning for the future of the 4.6 million mobile UK and EU citizens facing uncertain futures finds that progress is stalling on setting up and completing citizens’ residence registration under the withdrawal agreement. Only five countries have opened registration procedures, despite the ticking clock. The UK, home to approximately 3.7 million EU citizens is the furthest along, having rolled out its pilot EU Settlement Scheme in 2019 before scaling it up. But among the 26 EU countries with responsibilities for citizens’ rights (Ireland is exempt because of the Common Travel Area with the United Kingdom), only Italy, Malta and the Netherlands had launched registration schemes before the pandemic began. Luxembourg opened the registration process for UK nationals on 1 July. The pandemic affected residence registration across the board in these countries, albeit to a different extent depending on their reliance on online versus in-person procedures.

“At a time when information outreach and support with the residence registration process should have been stepping up, especially for hard-to-reach groups with limited digital access or literacy, the public-health crisis and its economic aftershocks have shifted priorities and attention away from Brexit”, writes MPI Europe analysts Aliyyah Ahad and Monica Andriescu.

According to the MPI Europe report, governments are in a race against time to finalise their plans by the end of the year to implement the withdrawal agreement at a national level, draft and adopt legislation and guidelines, train officials and conduct outreach to target groups.

What the authors refer to as the “perfect storm of Brexit and public-health crisis” is being most acutely felt by groups with existing vulnerabilities in converting their status post-Brexit: families that have members who are third-country nationals and are separated by international travel restrictions, as well as pensioners with pre-existing medical needs. Yet the pandemic is also making new groups vulnerable, including the newly or precariously employed who may no longer meet conditions of the EU Free Movement Directive.

The brief outlines a number of steps governments can take with time running short to craft implementation plans, including stepping up outreach to affected populations, keeping evidence requirements minimal, enlisting the help of civil society organisations, setting up monitoring mechanisms to track performance and user experience, and helping governments identify and address bottlenecks in real time.

“With the outlook of reaching a trade agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom looking increasingly grim, it will be all the more vital to provide assurances to mobile Europeans and Britons that their rights under the withdrawal agreement are guaranteed and will be fairly implemented, regardless of the shape of future economic and political relations across the Channel”, the brief concludes.

Read the policy brief, commissioned as part of the MPI Europe project ‘UK Nationals Abroad after Brexit’.