A new report has outlined the devastating impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on UK migrants with limited or insecure status has been read with interest by immigration lawyers Optimus Law.
Around 75% of migrants surveyed in the study said they have struggled to pay for food during the pandemic, while half were left unable to afford other essentials such as toiletries and cleaning products.
Of those who needed financial support, 64% were unable to access it.
The findings come as part of the Building Resilience Project, a partnership between Migrant Voice, Refugee and Asylum Participatory Action Research, and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium.
It has shone a spotlight on the way that immigration policies in the UK work – and has especially highlighted how workers can face severe pressures if they lose their income. Although given permission to remain in the UK, some overseas workers have no access to public funds, such as welfare payments, as a condition attached to their right to stay in the UK. This has led to severe pressure if their income drops, or if they are one of the countless people who have lost their job as a result of the pandemic.
The report has led to criticism of the UK government, with calls that it could have done more to support migrants during the pandemic.
However, the UK Home Office has stated it has taken “unprecedented” action to support everyone in the UK.
A spokesperson is reported as telling Sky News: “We have taken unprecedented action throughout the pandemic to ensure people receive the support they need.
“For asylum seekers awaiting a decision, we acted decisively to increase the level of asylum support to ensure the essential needs of those in dispersed accommodation are met.
“We have increased the weekly cash asylum support allowance for those in self-catered accommodation and have provided free, fully furnished accommodation with three meals a day for those in hotels.
“The provision of the COVID-19 vaccine is a primary medical service and is being offered to all individuals living in the UK.
“Primary medical care is free of charge to all overseas visitors and would not, therefore, require any status checks to be carried out.
“Undocumented migrants place unjust burdens on the taxpayer and should take steps to regularise their status so they can access support or can speak to the Voluntary Returns Service if they can no longer remain in the UK.”