In a landmark ruling, the High Court has today ruled the government's 'Right to Rent' scheme to be unlawful, on the grounds that it causes racial discrimination; following a legal challenge brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).
This damning judgement by Mr Justice Spencer sends a clear and strong message to the government that the matrix of 'hostile environment' policies needs to come to an end.
Sophie Cartwright, JRS UK's policy officer said: "The Right to Rent scheme is a tool of the hostile environment, designed to create destitution and to further marginalise refused asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants. It is both cruel and dangerous. Today's High Court's ruling that it is unlawful is very welcome. The Right to Rent scheme - and indeed the entire hostile environment agenda - must be abandoned immediately."
Mr Justice Spencer, who presided over the case, found the 'Right to Rent' Scheme caused racial discrimination against those without British passports and against ethnic minorities.
Judge Spencer's finding echoes research published by JCWI in 2015 which found that the Right to Rent scheme was deepening and extending racial discrimination in the rental market.4 JRS UK have also raised concerns that the scheme increases migrant homelessness and renders migrants even more vulnerable to exploitation, including modern slavery.
Sophie continued, "In our 'Out in the Cold' report, we demonstrated that homelessness was ubiquitous among refused asylum seekers, and created vulnerability to abuse. We found that 60% of people we work with had slept rough within the last year, and over a third were physically afraid of those they lived with.
"This ruling today is fantastic and we are hopeful it will make a real difference in improving the lives of the vulnerable asylum seekers we support, opening up to them the possibility of safe and secure accommodation."
JRS UK 'Out in the Cold' Report into homeless among destitute refugees in London - www.jrsuk.net/out-in-the-cold/
'No Passport Equals No Home': An independent evaluation of the 'Right to Rent' scheme, JCWI September 2015 www.jcwi.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=5ab15f33-ae32-4e66-b040-402b71392177
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