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SESPM Topical Issues

SESPM Topical Issues

The 2021 Census

The census is coming. By taking part, you can help to inform decisions on services that shape your community, such as schools, doctors’ surgeries and bike lanes.

It’s important you fill in your census questionnaire because the information you share affects the life of every single person living in England and Wales.

Because these things matter to us all, everyone needs to complete the census. Do not worry, your information is protected by law. That means government officials dealing with payments or services you receive cannot see it.

Census Day is Sunday 21 March. You can fill yours in online as soon as you get your access code in the post. If your household circumstances change on Census Day, you can let The Office for National Statistics (ONS) know.

If you need help, you can visit www.census.gov.uk where there’s a wide range of support services available.


Whilst we endeavour to keep our links updated, it is worth noting that they may have changed subsequently.

Asylum accommodation and support system

In October 2020 in a letter to local authority chief executives the government announced an increase in asylum support payments. Those within dispersed accommodation will receive an increase in weekly payments to £39.63 per week (which is an increase of around 5%). Those in full board accommodation supported under section 95 or section 4(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will be eligible to receive payments of £8 per week to cover clothing, travel and non-prescription medication. Back payment of £3 per week for clothing needs will be available from as far back as 27 March (or the date on which the person was granted support), and £3 per week for travel costs backdated to the 1st July (or the date the person was granted support). The mechanisms of how this payment will be provided are being worked through.

Click here to access translations on the leaflet informing eligible beneficiaries of the new £8 per week entitlement in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Farsi, Indian Punjabi, Kurdish Sorani, Pakistani Urdu, Pashto, Simplified Chinese and Tigrinya.

Click here to access translations on the leaflet informing people who are not eligible for the new £8 per week entitlement in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Farsi, Indian Punjabi, Kurdish Sorani, Pakistani Urdu, Pashto, Simplified Chinese and Tigrinya.

Existing Asylum Seekers

In March, the Home Office stopped requiring people to leave Home Office accommodation because their asylum claim or appeal has been finally decided (as would normally be the case). As of 11 August 2020, the Home Office resumed cessations of support including evictions from asylum accommodation for people who have been granted status.

Section 95 support – Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a pause in face to face substantive interviews. There are likely to be delays in initial decision-making and in asylum appeals taking place. Therefore, people may remain entitled to s95 support for longer.

The First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) announced that all hearings up to 30th April 2020 will be converted to Case Management Hearings (CMR) via telephone or Skype which will take place on the original hearing date in a time slot to be allocated. More information on this can be found here

Additional regional asylum intake units have been set up, click here for more information.

Section 4 Support – Asylum seekers with a fresh claim – The majority of refused asylum-seekers on s4 support have outstanding fresh claims;  it is not currently possible for people to leave the UK when waiting for a decision on a fresh claim. The Further Submissions Unit has closed to face to face further submissions appointments and it is now possible to send the further submissions in post. More information can be found here.

Section 4 Supported families are now temporarily eligible for Free School Meals. For more information click here.

Asylum decisions can now be served by email – The Home Office have set up a process whereby they will send an email to the legal representative (using the most recent email address they have on file) to verify that the email address  is correct, that the representative is happy to receive emails, the authority to act is current and that there are no reasons why serving the decision by email would not be appropriate. For more information, click here.

New Asylum Seekers

The Home Office, following guidance from Public Health England, has been working to set up a response for new asylum seeker arrivals who are displaying symptoms of Covid-19. This has entailed procuring dedicated accommodation which will be used to enable the self-isolation of all new arrivals displaying symptoms from across the UK. The Home Office are in dialogue with the relevant local authorities, CCGs and other statutory services about support for these services users. Any new asylum seekers without symptoms will go into Initial Accommodation and then Dispersed Accommodation as usual.

Migrant Help

Please find an update from Migrant Help here on how their services are developing and adapting in response to the current situation and a link to their website page on Covid-19. They have also created this page of resources to assist their clients at home during this time.

Clearsprings Ready Homes

Please find an update here from CRH on how their services are developing and adapting in response to the current situation.

Modern Slavery

The Home Office has confirmed that the National Referral Mechanism is, and will continue to take referrals of potential modern slavery victims throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and individuals who are referred will continue to be able to access the support they require through the Victim Care Contract, including accommodation. For the next three months the Home Office will not be requiring people to leave Home Office accommodation. Further information on supporting survivors of Modern Slavery during this time can be found here.


The UK Government have provided a fact sheet in relation to transfers of UASC into the UK. This includes their key points, background information and figures. This can be accessed here. The DfE have written to local authorities Director of Childrens’ Services (DCS) with details of their duties towards UASC during Covid-19. Information and guidance is available on the Government website.

Where an unaccompanied asylum seeking child arrives in England and is symptomatic of coronavirus (COVID-19), the local authority receiving them will need to take steps to ensure that they are placed in suitable accommodation in isolation from other people in line with PHE self-isolation guidance. Further information can be found here.

New package announced to support online learning – The government have announced that vulnerable and disadvantaged young people across the country will receive free laptops. This includes children who receive support from a social worker and care leavers. Care leavers will also be provided with 4G routers to access the internet if they do not already have access to the internet in their home. This will apply to UASC and young people, and other children receiving the support of a social worker. Click here for the full story


The UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have announced the resumption of resettlement departures for refugees. However, it should be noted that this is just a first step and does not mean that arrivals in the UK can restart yet. Arrivals into the UK continues to depend on a number of COVID-19 related factors including: the restarting of flights from refugee hosting countries; the lifting of restrictions imposed by the governments of those countries and in the UK; the reopening of the UK’s visa application centres; the capacity of local authorities and sponsors to receive refugees; and appropriate public health measures being in place to protect refugees and communities.

Community Sponsorship

Whilst new arrivals on the UKRS has been temporarily halted, RESET, the organisation supporting Community Sponsorship organisations continue to take in applications from Groups, they have also created a Covid-19 page  with guidance of how to support families already here covid-19-guidance and virtual drop in sessions for people interested in learning more about Community Sponsorship or how to make an application.


The NRPF Network have created this factsheet for councils covering issues such as homelessness services to social service support, rights and entitlements for people designated NRPF. This can be accessed here.

NRPF Children are now eligible for Free School Meals. The Secretary of State agreed to extend free school meal entitlement temporarily during the current crisis to children of Zambrano carers who have NRPF. For more information please visit the NRPF website page on this topic here and the general NRPF Covid-19 website page here.

Local authority call for evidence: ‘no recourse to public funds’ during the Covid-19 pandemic – The Institute for Community Research and Development (ICRD) at the University of Wolverhampton, together with ASIRT, Migrants’ Rights Network, Project 17 and Public Interest Law Centre, is being funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to carry out a rapid evidence research project into support for people with ‘no recourse to public funds’ during the Covid-19 pandemic. They want to find out from council officers how local authorities have responded to this. What are the challenges and difficulties, and what are the emerging areas of good practice? Click here to access the survey

Undocumented Migrants

The Government have created this gov.uk page with details on the support available for undocumented migrants at this time.


More than 3 million have already been granted status with more than a year left to go until the deadline for applications. In the South East, as of June 2020, 432,290 EU Citizens have received an outcome from their Settled Status application, out of an estimated total of 452,000 EU nationals. Applications are still being processed currently, but they will take longer due to Covid-19. Please see more information below:

Home Office support services and application routes have now all fully reopened in line with public health guidance. This includes the reopening of the postal route for submitting identity documents for applicants who are unable to use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app to verify their identity.

The EU Settlement Resolution Centre continues to provide support 7 days a week by email and telephone, in line with public health guidance to work from home where possible.

A video that explains the support available for applicants can be found here. Please feel free to share this on your social media channels and with others in your network.

There continues to be a range of support online. Applicants can use the EU Exit ID Document check app to complete the identity stage of their application.

There are 57 voluntary and community sector organisations across the UK which can offer assistance online, over the telephone or by email to help more vulnerable or at-risk people to apply. Please check with the individual organisations for further details. There is a postcode checker within the link which will guide you to your nearest support organisation.

Additional support is available for those who do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to apply online through Assisted Digital, which can offer assistance over the telephone.

Communications materials have been translated into 26 languages and alternative formats can also be requested.

The ID document scanner locations are currently suspended at this time following the latest public health guidance to protect staff. However, the Home Office and our delivery partners are keeping this situation under constant review and will endeavour to reinstate ID document scanner locations to their original capacity in line with public health guidance.

There is still more than a year left before the deadline of 30 June 2021 for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Visa extensions

Updated information to explain that overseas services will remain open but dependent on local country restrictions, and that our in-country immigration services (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services, Service and Support Centres and English Language Test centres) will remain open. Updated ‘If you’re applying to enter the UK or remain on the basis of family or private life’ section to explain that the period for requesting exceptional assurance has been extended. Click here to read more.

Thousands more health workers to benefit from visa extensions – More than 6,000 frontline health workers will have their visas extended for a year for free, including doctors, nurses and paramedics. This follows an announcement earlier in the year offering free visa extensions for health professionals whose visas were due to expire between 31 March 2020 and 1 October 2020. Today’s decision will extend that offer from 1 October 2020 until 31 March 2021. Click here to read more

Updated information on Service and Support Centres, English language tests, and 90 day validity of replacement visas  under the Guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents. Click here to access.

Update on COVID-19 guidance for student sponsors, migrants and short-term students the guidance has been updated and the changes can be found on page 5 and 6 which can be found here.

Exemption to the Immigration Health Surcharge

The government have announced further details on how the exemption to the Immigration Health Surcharge will work for health and care staff, who will now be permanently exempt from this charge. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-health-and-care-visa-to-ensure-uk-health-and-care-services-have-access-to-the-best-global-talent

Voluntary Returns Service

As from the 13th July 2020, assisted voluntary returns has been resumed.  If you know of people without leave who wish to return home please contact the Voluntary Returns Service to discuss the support options available to them: Telephone: 0300 0040 202 Opening hours 09:00-17:00. Online form: https://www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily.

Detention Centres

Detention centres are now closed to visitors and have stopped new detentions due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Click here for more information.

UKVI Reporting and Offender Management (ROM) 

The UKVI Reporting and Offender Management (ROM) Team have now confirmed reporting frequencies for reportees in light of the COVID-19 developing situation.  The decision taken is that they will initially suspend reporting for all reportees and an SMS message will be sent out to reportees shortly advising them of this. The agreement is that reporting will be suspended for Non Foreign National Offender’s (FNOs) for 3 months.  For FNO’s, they will all be moved to monthly reporting. They will then, via SMS, inform reportees of the change to their reporting and when they should next report.

DWP National Insurance number interviews (NINOs)

DWP NINO interviews are not currently taking place for 3 months effective from 17/03/2020. The DWP have advised that individuals can start work without a National Insurance Number as long as they have the right to work in the UK and employers have information to allow them to do this. For further information around DWP Services during this current crisis please access the Coronavirus and claiming Benefits section on Understanding Universal Credit website.

Immigration Bail Reporting conditions

The new (November) restrictions set in place for England, alongside the proposed measures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been considered and it is felt that the Home Office has robust enough procedures to ensure the safety of individuals required to conduct face to face reporting in line with their immigration bail status. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are not expected to travel to reporting centres and will have alternative arrangements put in place for them.

General travel advice

From the 8th June new travel restrictions will be in place, please find more information here.

Border health measures guidance for quarantine can be found here.

Covid-19 & Housing

New legal duty to self-isolate comes into force – From 28th September, people in England will be required by law to self-isolate if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Click here to read more.

Changes to private renting laws which may affect migrants

Temporary changes to landlord checks – From March 30, landlords no longer need to see original documents. Checks by landlords of applicants’ eligibility to rent can be carried out by video calls, and applicants can send scanned documents by email or mobile app, according to Home Office guidance.

Temporary changes to Evictions (England & Wales) – The government has published more detailed plans to halt evictions from rented property by social and private landlords. From March 26 landlords will have to give three months’ notice to seek possession, and from March 27 the court service has suspended all ongoing housing possession actions. Landlords will therefore not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. General government advice to landlords and tenants is here. And here is a CIH fact sheet explaining the measures.

Homelessness and Rough Sleeping

The Government wrote to local authorities on March 27 requiring them to find appropriate accommodation for all rough sleepers and other vulnerable people ‘by the end of the week’. It also urged them to ‘utilise alternative powers and funding to assist those with no recourse to public funds who require shelter and other forms of support due to the COVID-19 pandemic’. The government is providing English local authorities with £1.6 billion to provide extra services during the crisis and directed authorities to use these funds to provide accommodation.

An additional £105 million to keep rough sleepers safe and off the streets during coronavirus pandemic -will be used to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness into tenancies of their own, including through help with deposits for accommodation, and securing thousands of alternative rooms already available and ready for use, such as student accommodation. A further £16 million is also being provided so that vulnerable people currently in emergency accommodation can access they specialist help they need for substance misuse issues, in order to rebuild their lives and move towards work and education.Click here to read the full press release.

There is Government guidance for hostel or day centre providers of services for people in England experiencing rough sleeping. Welsh Government guidance is here and Scottish Government guidance here.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has produced good practice guidance for those running temporary accommodation and day centres.  Their website is updated regularly with good information on housing related Covid-19 advice.

Self-isolation guidance within residential settings

DfE and PHE Guidance for self-isolation within residential settings for young people such as in children’s homes, boarding schools or universities can be found here.

Self-isolation guidance within residences for those with disabilities

Guidance for self-isolation within nursing homes for people with learning disabilities, mental health and/or other disabilities can be found here.

Benefits and Pensions

Some measures to simplify access to benefits and pensions have been introduced via temporary benefit regulations. The gov.uk website has a summary of measures to support benefit claimants. A CIH fact sheet explains the measures.

Guidance for those who are victims of domestic abuse

The Government have created this guidance on domestic abuse during Covid-19. The following funding has also been made available.  The Communities Secretary has pledged £76 million extra funding to support survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence and vulnerable children and their families and victims of modern slavery. A total of £34.15 million will support work to safeguard vulnerable children including children with disabilities, those who are critically ill, care leavers and children in the early years, £28 million to help survivors of domestic abuse and their children by providing more safe spaces, accommodation and access to support services, £10 million has been announced to support victims of sexual violence and £1.73 million to support survivors of modern slavery. Click here to read more.

The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance has also issued this guidance.

Translated resources by the Women’s Aid Community are available in our Translated Resources section further down this page.

Local Government Association Information on Covid-19 & Resources for Local Authorities

The Prime Minister has announced information regarding the easing of the second lockdown restrictions due to take place on 2nd December, in particular highlighting the new changes to the tier system. Click here to read the full announcement.

The LGA have created this resource for local authorities which is a general hub for all concerns from local authorities relating to Covid-19.

The Government have created guidance for local authorities on Covid-19 here.

Information on the £1.6 billion that the Government has pledged to support to local authorities work surrounding Covid-19 can be found here.

The LGA in conjunction with PHE have created these resources to assist authorities in creating place based approaches to combating health inequalities.

COVID-19 place based approach to reducing health inequalities overview 

COVID-19 Summary of Guidance and support for vulnerable groups

COVID-19 Suggestions for mitigating the impact on health inequalities at a local level

COVID-19 Health Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT) for local areas

COVID-19 Data tools to support local areas

COVID-19 Estimated population at risk by LA

The International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (ICMHD) have created a short report with advice on how to work with migrant communities during Covid which can be accessed here .

IOM UK have created an online platform to support migrants during Covid 19. The Migrant Information Serivce includes a vast amount of information on key aspects of Covid-19 such as: a multilingual website, a telephone service to provide information to migrants living in the UK on 5 key topics: health, work, benefits, visas and immigration, housing and homelessness. The website also provides a comprehensive overview of the various governmental and non-governmental support schemes that are available to migrants. Finally, it provides signposted information for users to get further information and/or begin the process of accessing support. The website is currently available in many languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Arabic, Chinese, Albanian and Vietnamese, with Polish to be added soon. The telephone service provides information to callers in any language, and is available on Freephone. Click here to access the website.

The IOM have also created a toolkit on migrant community engagement strategies which can be accessed here.

The Government has launched a £5 million Loneliness COVID-19 grant fund available to help national organisation to tackle loneliness during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing. The plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness. The fund is available for charitable organisations and is in England only. Click here for more information and how to apply.

Information on COVID-19 for non-UK nationals

Translated resources

Official guidance – Many of you will be aware that Doctors of the World, in collaboration with other civil society partners, have been translating official government guidance on COVID-19 into a wide range of languages. The latest translations can be found here. Doctors of the world have kindly said that they are happy for links to these resources on their websites to be added to Council websites if you wish to share them that way also.

NHS England have created this page with the At Risk Patient letter translated into the following languages; Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, French, Gujuarati, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjkabi and Urdu. There are also useful links and guidance documents relating to those who are most vulnerable of contracting Covid-19.

Translated resources and guidance on mental health and well being collated by our North East Strategic Migration Partnership colleagues can be found here.

Askdoc.org.uk – a BAME health organisation connected to Manchester University Faculty of Medical Sciences have created a site with videos containing advice on how to manage the threat of Covid-19. These have been translated into Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, French, German, Kurdish Sorani, Mandarin, Mirpuri, Polish, Punjabi, Pushto, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Urdu.

PHE have created this comprehensive list of sites with translated materials on Covid-19. Recent additions to this list include posters on the following topics; Hand washing, Limiting contact, Keeping a safe distance, Self isolation, Working from home. These can be accessed here

The Women’s Aid community have created this guidance for survivors of domestic violence in 15 different languages and British Sign Language.

The British Red Cross have created prevention messages and Emergency Contact Cards where people can write the name of the person they would wish to be contacted should they become seriously ill. The Emergency Contact Card is to be completed in English so that emergency services can easily contact the person’s designated person.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also created a Whatsapp update service. To sign up to WHO’s coronavirus WhatsApp information service follow the following directions
• Arabic Send “مرحبا” to +41 22 501 70 23 on WhatsApp wa.me/41225017023?text=مرحبا
• French Send “salut” to +41 22 501 72 98 on WhatsApp wa.me/41225017298?text=salut
• Spanish Send “hola” to +41 22 501 76 90 on WhatsApp wa.me/41225017690?text=hola
• English Send “hi” to +41 79 893 18 92 on WhatsApp wa.me/41798931892?text=hi

Coping strategies for anxious times – Bristol City Council, NHS and Traumatic Stress Services have produced guidance on coping strategies for anxious times during the coronavirus outbreak in 15 different languages. These include English , French , Pashto , Somali , Albanian , Arabic , Bengali , Mandarin , Polish , Romanian , Farsi, Tigrinya , Turkish , Urdu and Sorani .

Migration Yorkshire have created the following resources translated into Arabic:

  • Help with communicating the change in Covid 19 guidance which have come into place after the 4th July.  Click here to access.
  • Guidance for people shielding vulnerable people with underlying health conditions. Click here to access.
  • Face coverings on public transport and in hospitals. Click here to access.

Guidance on Covid-19 for Roma Communities

The Roma Support Group have amassed a number of resources relevant for Roma Communities including a video detailing what the virus is, a video from the “Rugul Aprins” Roma Church leader, videos explaining what Social distancing is in Romanian Romanes dialect, Slovak Romanes dialect, as well as Romanian and Slovakian. There are also videos on the Governement’s advice in Romanian Romanes dialect, Slovak Romanes dialect, as well as Romanian and Slovakian.

Lord Greenhalgh, Communities Minister, has written to local authority chief executives to highlight that some members of Gypsy and Traveller communities are likely to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and may need support in accessing basic facilities such as water, sanitation and waste disposal, to enable them to adhere to public health guidelines around self-isolation and social distancing during the outbreak.


Migrants who are vulnerable to Covid-19

PHE and DfE have created this link for any migrant (or NGO/VCO assisting that migrant), to register themselves with the NHS if they have any of the following health conditions which would make them more vulnerable to Covid-19,so that they would be eligible for extra support measures.

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients
  2. People with specific cancers – People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    · People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    · People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    · People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    · People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell). For Sickle Cell please find more information here.
  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  6. People who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired”

For asylum seekers, this support obviously is in addition to, rather than in place of, the support which is provided by AASC/AIRE.

Client Resources – ESOL

The following links from the  UKRS ESOL Coordinator Network provide information on where you can access good quality online ESOL  provision. These resources from Manchester ESOL Advice Service are organised according to ESOL level, pre-entry, Entry 1, Entry 2, Entry 3, Level 1, Level 2.

Learning and Work institute in collaboration with Learning Unlimited have released a number of new resources to help those providing ESOL to migrants. This includes advice to volunteers and people coordinating the provision of ESOL in informal environments, such as conservation clubs. These resources can be accessed here.

Opportunity for online learning resources for UASC – Big Leaf Foundation – The project involves both sending a box of project activities to their homes such as growing cress or making origami, but also organising online sessions both to help learning but also to collaborate in musical activities such as song writing. The physical resources are only available in Surrey but the online resources are accessible to wider audiences. Click here for more information and to get in touch.

Future of Resettlement Post 2020 – A New Global Scheme!

The Home Secretary has written to Parliament outlining the future of Refugee Resettlement in the UK. From 2020 all existing schemes will be consolidated into a new global resettlement scheme, broadening the geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa region so as to be better placed to swiftly respond to international crises, in coordination with global partners. The new scheme will continue to resettle the most vulnerable refugees, as identified and referred by UNHCR. The scheme aims to resettle 5,000 people within its first year, with subsequent targets renewed on an annual basis. Rates of support to local authorities will remain the same as they are presently, and the Community Sponsorship Scheme will also continue. A new process for emergency resettlement will also be developed, allowing the UK to respond quickly to instances of heightened protection need, providing a faster route to protection where lives are at risk. SESPM and SEEC will consult with our local authorities to share information about the new scheme and to understand the commitment they can make.

Click here to access the full Ministerial written statement and here to access the Government’s press statement.

New Asylum Support Contracts Announced

The Asylum Accommodation Support Contracts (AASC)  and the Advice Issue Reporting Eligibility (AIRE) contract has now been awarded and will replace the current COMPASS arrangements in September this year. The details are contained within this  ministerial statement.

In summary for the South East, the incumbent provider, Clearsprings Ready Homes have been awarded the contract for Initial Accommodation, Dispersal Accommodation, Transport and associated Support Services. Migrant Help have been awarded the single, national contract for Advice Issue Reporting Eligibility services.

Windrush Compensation Scheme

You may have seen that the Home Secretary made an announcement in the House on 14 December on the improvements to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Details of this can be found in this factsheet as well as further details on the fund here.  Should you wish to request the attendance of the Home Office compensation team at an event please contact: windrushcompensation@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

The Home Office presented an update at all SESPM’s Sub Regional Strategic Migration groups through September 2018  on the actions being pursued in respect of addressing the issues arising from ‘Windrush’. This includes the consultation events covering the support available, gathering lessons learned and compensation.

In order to assist local authorities helping undocumented Commonwealth Citizens the NRPF network has created guidance. The Local Government Association (LGA) has also issued advice regarding Commonwealth Citizens without status.

Refugees – South East update

The majority of South East local authorities are accommodating refugees as part of the Government commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. The refugee resettlement scheme has now been extended to include a further 3,000 people in families from the Middle East and North Africa and SESPM continues to receive pledges from South East local authorities to place refugees. SESPM co-ordinates refugee arrivals to the South East and works closely with local authorities to match the individual needs of arrivals with pledges received.

Further information on the national scheme is available from LGA, which has published a one-stop resource for councils to answer questions about the local authority role in resettling refugees. The LGA information includes updates on the details of a funding package to assist local authorities who offer to help refugees. The package includes financial support for councils. LGA has also produced a guide to support available to local authorities resettling refugees after the first year.

South East residents who want to offer accommodation should contact their local authority directly. Residents who want to donate money or goods should visit the Home Office advice page, which lists organisations to contact.

At the start of the resettlement programme SEEC and SESPM  published a Member Briefing on the Syrian Refugee Relocation in September 2015, an updated member briefing in November 2015 and a further update in April 2016.

The Government has recently published an overview of the UK’s resettlement policies and main resettlement schemes.

Further information on SESPM activities and the support it provides to local authorities is available from SESPM Head of Partnership Roy Millard. Contact him at roymillard@secouncils.gov.uk


SESPM also provides support and information to help local authorities make the best use of Government funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to help refugees learn English. SESPM has commissioned a ‘how to guide’ on delivering ESOL and a helpdesk to provide information and offer support with commissioning of new ESOL provision. An interactive map has also been created to help identify local ESOL providers in your area. A key challenge facing ESOL practitioners is how to provide language training to those who speak no or very little English, especially to those who may not be literate in their own language. These learners are classified as ‘pre-entry’ level within the UK education system.  Consequently, SESPM commissioned Learning and Work Institute (L&W) to create a pre-entry ESOL guide focusing exclusively on this issue, containing advice such as how to undertake initial assessment and overcome barriers to progression as well as useful resources.

SESPM and L&W’s event on the 20th November 2019 focused on young ESOL learners aged 16-19 proved very popular with 94% of respondents saying they felt the day had fully met its aims. Topics covered on the day include: supporting young people to access suitable ESOL provision (with a presentation from Pathways to Independence), accessing suitable provision including work experience, (with presentation from Philips), examples of good practice from colleges (with presentations from East Surrey College, John Ruskin College and Milton Keynes College). The final report from the day can be accessed here. L&Ws slides from the day including key resources for learners in this cohort can be accessed here. A co-created list of advice for working with this cohort can be found here.

SESPM and L&W also collaborated with Migration Yorkshire on an event aimed to feed into the creation of a toolkit for commissioning ESOL for refugees. The day saw presentations from NATECLA, Migration Yorkshire, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College, Cherwell District College, Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), Southampton City Council, Virtual Schools Kent and Oxford City Council. The event was very well received with 96% of attendants saying that the day had fully achieved its aims and that the topics covered on the day would help with their future work. Several respondents stated their intentions to create local ESOL hubs as a result of the presentations and networking on the day. Presentations from the day can be accessed here. The final Migration Yorkshire toolkit containing a raft of resources can be found here. The toolkit offers useful guidance and highlights current effective practice in ESOL. It’s illustrated by nearly 50 case studies from across England. There’s also an accompanying literature review which informed the best practice the toolkit was based on.

Due to the challenges presented by Covid-19 L&W and SESPM held a webinar on delivering ESOL online.  The day saw presentations from Oxford City College, Refugees Welcome Crawley, Canterbury Welcomes Refugees.  Over 70 people joined the webinar which received very positive feedback. Presentations from the day can be found here.

South East authorities participating in any of the resettlement programmes can contact the helpdesk via southeastesol@learningandwork.org.uk.


SESPM also works with the Learning and Work Institute to support local authorities helping refugees into employment. Together we created an Employment Guide. The guide was officially launched on March 26th 2019 at an event focusing on employability held in Reigate and attended by over 70 people. In addition to introducing the guide, the event featured presentations from the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, and case studies of successful employment initiatives taking place in Oxford and Reigate. Feedback from the event was very positive, with 91% of respondents felt that the day had fully achieved its stated aims and 94% stated that the topics were relevant to their work.

L&W in conjunction with Aspire, Oxford, have created this checklist to help organisations working with refugees on matters relating to ESOL and transition into employment.

Refugee Resettlement Workshops

South East authorities provide a significant contribution to the Refugee Resettlement Programmes i.e. Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (SVPRS) and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (VCRS).

In supporting our authorities SESPM runs quarterly multi-agency workshops for practitioners addressing key areas such as cultural orientation, health, education, reporting requirements, financial arrangements and topical issues.

We are grateful to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for their ongoing support in delivering these workshops. This is an example of a typical agenda.

SESPM is supported in delivering the resettlement programmes and coordinating these workshops by an expert Programme Coordinator, Susan Fawcus; for further information please contact Susan on sespm@secouncils.gov.uk.

Community Sponsorship

In addition to the local authority-led model for refugee resettlement, SESPM is assisting in providing information and raising awareness about the Community Sponsorship modelFull community sponsorship is a way that community groups can be involved in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable people fleeing conflict.

SESPM works alongside RESET,  a new charity partnering with leading refugee, faith and community charities to promote community sponsorship across the UK.

National Transfer Scheme and Children’s Programmes

A National Transfer Scheme (NTS) for unaccompanied children came into operation on 1 July 2016 and SESPM has been delivering a coordination function to support placement of children in local authorities in the South East where capacity allows.

The partnership has a seconded Principal Social Worker, Sarah Spain, who is assisting councils on Migrant Children.  Sarah is providing expert support which covers Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), transferred to the UK under the  so called ‘Dubs’ amendment (section 67 of the 2016 Immigration Act) and others arriving under the Dublin III regulation, which allows children to be reunited with family living in the UK.

This work includes organising practitioner training in key areas including Age Assessment, Trauma Training and Child Trafficking as well as coordinating a practitioners’ group. SESPM also sits on the National Police Chiefs Council task and finish group on UASC issues.

For more information please contact sarahspain@secouncils.gov.uk

Asylum – Asylum Accommodation Contracts

Current contracts to provide asylum accommodation and support expire in September 2019. SESPM has supported engagement with South East local authorities and third sector partners to contribute to the consultation to inform the new arrangements through the Asylum Accommodation and Support Transformation (AAST). More information is available through this briefing note on the LGA website.

Controlling Migration Fund

The Controlling Migration Fund is designed to support local areas facing pressures linked to recent immigration.

The Fund will be available over the 4 years from 2016-17 to 2019-20 and is in 2 parts:

  • A local service impacts part of £100 million, to help English local authorities and their communities experiencing high and unexpected volumes of immigration to ease pressures on local services.
  • An enforcement part worth £40 million to direct enforcement action against people in the UK illegally in order to reduce the pressure on local areas

The Government website provides more details of the fund including projects granted and how to apply.

The Controlling Migration Fund has also provided some additional funding for local authorities and local projects for building capacity to support unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Assisted Voluntary Returns and Voluntary Departures

Some people choose to return to their country of origin through a Voluntary Departure scheme.

SESPM works with the Home Office Voluntary Departure Unit to promote awareness of the voluntary return options for people with irregular immigration status or who have an outstanding asylum claim. SESPM sits on the national Voluntary Returns Steering group and connects our partners with the Voluntary Returns Unit through our South East No Recourse to Public Funds and Sub-Regional meetings.

Migration Data

SESPM contributes to SEEC’s twice-yearly data dashboard, reporting key trends in migration across the South East. Headline Statistics are included in the dashboard. The Home Office gives quarterly updates on immigration statistics and Local Area Migration indicators are produced by the Office for National Statistics on a yearly basis.

The Migration Statistics User Forum is supported by the Office for National Statistics and aims to be the strategic voice of users of official statistics. It’s next conference takes place on the 19th October 2018.

Modern Slavery

SESPM has been working with many partners to fight modern slavery in the UK. To find out more information, please look at our Modern Slavery page.

Impacts of Irregular Migration in local areas in the South East

SESPM worked with the University of Reading to research the impacts of irregular migration. This work aims to identify and fill evidence gaps around why people become visa-overstayers and the impact that this has on society and the economy, including labour markets. Headline findings from this research cover:

  • Work is a key driver
  • High housing costs in the SE do not appear to be a significant barrier
  • Existing networks play a significant role in determining the flow & destinations of irregular migrants
  • The SE proximity to London and relative diversity may reduce the visibility of irregular migration
  • The impact on public services and how they are/are not accessed
  • The role of irregular migration in meeting employment gaps.

Migrant skills and the South East economy

In July 2017 SEEC and SESPM ran a workshop on Brexit, migration and skills in the South East economy. Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva of the Oxford University Migration Observatory set out an analysis of economic migration and the impact of EU workers on the South East. 17% of South East residents (925,000) were born outside the UK, of which 42% (384,000) are EU nationals (making up 7% of the total South East workforce).  Significant numbers of EU nationals in the South East work in the banking and finance, public administration, education, health & care and construction sectors.

Sectors and Skills – in 2012 SESPM worked with the University of Reading to identify migrant skills and occupations within the South East. This work highlights the significance of migrant labour to the South East and UK economy, identifies the sectors and occupations migrants are working in and provides a comparison between employment of migrant and native labour over a five year period. Available here are the executive summary, main report and appendices  1-3, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a and 6b.

Labour reliance – A major piece of research identified potential skills gaps in LEP areas as a result of the cap on non-EU migrants entering theUK. Seven reports below outline the situation in 7 LEP areas which have a footprint in the South East:

2012 Data for the South East as a whole, Coast to Capital, Enterprise M3, Essex, Kent & East Sussex, Oxfordshire City Region, Solent, Thames Valley Bucks and Thames Valley Berkshire.

2010 Data Coast to CapitalEnterprise M3Essex, Kent & East SussexOxfordshire City RegionSolentSouth East Midlands; and Thames Valley.

Bulgarian and Romanian migration – SESPM commissioned this report from the University of Reading to provide partners across the South East with an independent, practical planning resource to respond to any increase in migration from Bulgaria and Romania from January 2014 onwards.

The report helps local organisations develop a proactive approach to forward planning and effectively assessing and addressing any local impacts. Published in November 2013, review the Executive summary or read the full report.

Gurkha Community

The 2011 census identified that the South East region is home to the largest Nepalese population in the UK with 40% of the total residing here. A full breakdown shows the locations and numbers of Nepalese communities across the area.

Research in 2010 reported on the integration and settlement of Gurkha communities living in the South East of England. Amid concerns that the growing Gurkha community might increase costs for local authorities with a high Gurkha population, the research found a very high level of economic activity among Gurkha families in the South East. See also a brief summary of the research findings or read the full report.

This project received coverage in the media, highlighting the Ghurkhas’ contribution to the economy.

Integration Project(s)

SESPM has been working proactively to jointly co-ordinate an effective coalition of regional partners to deliver shared integration goals.

A particular outcome of this was the development of the South Coast Integration Partnership (SCIP) covering local authority and voluntary sector partners in Portsmouth, Southampton and Brighton & Hove. The partnership demonstrates a model which can be replicated across the South East.

The Controlling Migration Fund was announced in November 2016 and it is designed to support local areas facing pressures linked to recent immigration.

The Fund will be available over the 4 years from 2016-17 to 2019-20, and is in 2 parts:

  • A local service impacts part of £100 million, to help English local authorities and their communities experiencing high and unexpected volumes of immigration to ease pressures on local services.
  • An enforcement part worth £40 million to direct enforcement action against people in the UK illegally in order to reduce the pressure on local areas.

Impact on Policing

SESPM and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) worked to establish a baseline strategic assessment into the impacts of migration on policing in the South East. The headline findings from this research cover:

  • Understanding the Context of Migration.
  • The Need for Cultural Awareness
  • Interpretation and Translation Costs
  • Destitution and Street Living
  • Local Expertise and specialist knowledge
  • The Role of First Response
  • Migrants as Victims and Perpetrators of Crime:
  • Data Gaps.

Positive Futures Project

The Positive Futures pilot project addressed a key issue affecting former Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children who become Appeal Rights Exhausted when turning age 18. This can lead to a state of limbo during which time these young people are not entitled to work, education or benefits, which increases their vulnerability to exploitation. The project identified the key barriers that these young people cited as preventing them considering a voluntary return to their country of origin as enforced returns are often complex and lengthy.

SESPM and the Centre for Public Innovation  jointly led the delivery of a pilot project which worked  with a cohort of young asylum seekers aged between 18-25 years to make active steps to overcoming barriers to considering voluntary return.

This project was evaluated by the University of Kent and two key policy recommendations presented to the Home Office.

17/07/2014 – Final Report from the Positive Futures roundtable event.


The work of SESPM is funded by the Home Office. For more information on South East Strategic Partnership for Migration contact Roy Millard at South East England Councils –roymillard@secouncils.gov.uk 01304 872186