London Mayor announces funding for legal advice to help Londoners with insecure immigration status
- Sadiq Khan pledges £370,000 to improve legal advice to Londoners with insecure immigration status
- Mayor announces funding on Windrush anniversary and says the Government’s hostile environment is putting people at risk of destitution
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced new funding to help Londoners access the legal support they need to secure their immigration status and prevent injustices like the Windrush scandal from happening again.
Sadiq has pledged to invest up to £370,000 to support the immigration advice sector in London on Windrush Day, the anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush from the Caribbean. The funding aims to increase the capacity of stretched immigration advice services to ensure that Londoners – like the Windrush Generation – can seek advice and support to secure their status.
This financial support will help to widen access to legal advice and strengthen the vital service that London’s immigration sector provides. The sector has been decimated by cuts to legal aid amounting to £350m over the last decade, removing access to affordable advice for thousands of people. This new funding includes appointing London’s first Insecure Status Coordinator at City Hall, in order to have a long term impact on improving access and the quality of immigration advice across the whole city.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Windrush generation have made an enormous contribution to our country and to the success of our great city, influencing almost every aspect of our culture and modern life. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
“But the disgraceful way the Windrush generation and their families have been treated by the Government is a national scandal. Their experiences clearly demonstrate that the immigration process is difficult to navigate and the increasing severity of the hostile environment is putting Londoners with the right to be here at risk of destitution.
“That’s why I’m taking action on Windrush Day to make sure that Londoners are not let down again. I am investing in legal advice to support vulnerable Londoners – many of whom may have lived here most of their lives, have been through school here, and worked and paid taxes here. The Government has already failed the Windrush generation, but we have to act now to stop an injustice like this from happening again.”
Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard, said: “As we celebrate the Windrush generation we must also recognise, and put right, the mistreatment they have endured. We must make sure that a shameful national scandal like this can never happen again.
“That’s why we are stepping in today to support the legal advice sector – it has been hit hard by cuts to legal aid and there is now a very real risk that Londoners could find themselves unable to navigate an extremely costly, complex and hostile process in order to secure their immigration status. I am proud that the Mayor’s new funding will support access to immigration advice for members of the Windrush generation, children born in the UK to parents without secure immigration status and in the future could include EU citizens and their families – Londoners who have made this city their home.”
Patrick Vernon OBE said: “The Windrush Generation and their descendants are still caught up with the hostile environment and trying to access Windrush compensation scheme. The additional funding to the immigration and advice sector by the Mayor of London, plus support for the Windrush Justice Fund managed by JCWI will give access to justice and help. As long as the hostile environment remains, it undermines the vision of the national Windrush Day celebration.”
Anita Hurrell, Head of the Migrant Children’s Project, Coram Children's Legal Centre, said: “Since the legal aid cuts in 2013, thousands of London’s children and young people have been unable to secure their status and their futures in the city they call home. They need legal support to realise the rights the law gives them to stay in the UK and to become British citizens. We welcome the Mayor’s investment in London’s immigration advice sector. It will help to sustain these services – services that are vital in a city where a quarter of the population aren’t British citizens and more people than ever need legal support.”
Satbir Singh, CEO, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “This generous support from the Mayor London could not come at a more critical time. The nation now knows about the shameful treatment of the Windrush Generation, there is not so much awareness of the fact that there are many more people across London and beyond unable to get the papers to prove their citizenship or their right to live here because of the barriers of huge fees and the hostile environment set up by the Government. Thanks to the Mayor of London, many more Londoners will hopefully now have access to quality immigration advice which will help them secure their future.”