3. Strategy Delivery and Implementation
3.1 Essential Needs
Action 1: We are piloting a Hardship Fund to support people with NRPF across Scotland who are facing crisis situations
In 2022-23, the Scottish Government funded the British Red Cross to continue to deliver the Scottish Crisis Fund, with a combined total of £642,500 from the Asylum and Refugee Integration and Food Insecurity budgets. The project delivers crisis grants, which are accessed via a cash distribution network of local organisations, providing people, inclusive of those subject to NRPF, with wider advice and support, and offering critical help for people facing destitution. The project also brings together a community of practice, with a view to improving coordination or support and developing a model of casework provision alongside hardship grants, to help support people out of destitution in the longer term.
Understanding the level of demand for cash assistance is one of the key objectives of the project. We are working to build knowledge through the facilitation of community of practice meetings that support organisations to share expertise on key issues that impact people in vulnerable positions.
The project also supports partners and organisations with learning on new immigration requirements and rules on benefit eligibility that will apply to EEA Nationals residing in Scotland, and how these affect entitlements to benefits, housing assistance and social work support. It will also assist in developing pathways out of destitution by supporting partners working with people in vulnerable positions and their families to plan a route out of destitution either directly or by onward referral.
People supported during April 2022 to March 2023:
Of the 1857 people supported by the project, 915 were subject to no recourse to public funds.
- 38% at risk of homelessness
- 18 % were homeless
- 9.3% had recent and significant deterioration in mental health
- 5.4% had recent and significant deterioration in physical health
- 15.8% unable to find employment
- 5.8% were in debt
- 11% were facing gender-based violence
- 41% had other reasons for applying– which are unique and not included in the current referral form.
- 5.3% had long-term mental ill-health
- 3.3% had a long-term medical condition
- 2.5% had a physical impairment
Eligibility for public funds
- 49% had one or more member of the household with NRPF conditions
- 51% were eligible for public funds
Scottish Ministers have agreed to extend this project for another year, providing up to £715,000 of funding.
Action 2: We will improve dignified access to culturally appropriate food, in line with the dignity principles outlined in ‘Dignity: Ending Hunger Together’.
Govan Community Project (GCP) completed the production of a suite of resources for frontline community organisations to better their understanding of food dignity in relation to working with people with NRPF/asylum seeker status. These resources are available alongside other key elements of the ‘Dignity in Practice’ programme funded by the Scottish Government to support transition to core dignified responses to food insecurity and hosted on the Nourish Scotland Website.
GCP have begun to deliver their first learning events to provide organisations with interactive learning to support their awareness on significant issues. These activities focus on three main themes; raising awareness of the specific experiences and challenges for asylum seekers; building empathy and helping people see and care about people in the asylum process; and encouraging action to improve the situation for people now and in the future.
Co-production methods have been embedded at the core of this project, with every element having been produced with the Food For All groups’ input and direction. GCP have noted that the ‘most powerful outcome of this project so far has been seeing the confidence of the group members grow, and the pride they have in the work they have produced’.
Action 3: We will contribute to the ambition of ending homelessness and specifically support actions relating to people with NRPF and destitute asylum seekers. This includes work to support the development of a five-year delivery plan by the ‘Everyone Home Collective’ on the ‘route-map’ to end destitution.
During 2022-23, with the ending of public health measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some local authorities ceased providing accommodation under public health emergency powers to people with NRPF who newly presented as homeless, continuing to provide support only if there was a statutory duty to do so. Local authorities implemented a transition period for people with NRPF who were in local authority temporary accommodation, and provided assurances that processes were person-centred and implemented in partnership with the third sector.
The Scottish Government supported the set-up and implementation of third-sector (Fair Way Scotland) and local authority NRPF partnership structures in two local authority areas. Local liaison groups were put in place at both casework and strategic levels to ensure every individual who was accommodated under public health emergency powers accommodation was engaged with and supported to explore all options for continued accommodation and support. The NRPF local liaison groups continue to meet regularly and to build on good practice and collaborative working between local authorities, Fair Way Scotland and other key actors.
The Scottish Government have provided £75,000 of funding to Homeless Network Scotland in 2022-23 to support the ongoing facilitation and infrastructure costs for Fair Way Scotland. Provision of this funding met commitments outlined in Ending Homelessness Together and Ending Destitution Together.
The Scottish Government also provided funding of £129,994 towards operating costs of the Rapid Re- Accommodation Welcome Centre (RRWC) in Edinburgh, which was operating between October 2022 and May 2023. The RRWC provides short-term emergency accommodation to people with NRPF to reduce the risk of rough sleeping in the city. According to the RRWC Annual Report2022-23, 1,167 individuals were supported which was a 40% increase on the previous year. 73% of guests were male, 26% female and 1% other. 89% of those accommodated in the RRWC said they would have had nowhere else to stay. 55% of guests were UK nationals and 45% were non-UK nationals. The average age of guests was 36, however 23% of guests were aged under 25. On average, a guest who had NRPF stayed in the accommodation for 18 nights compared to nine nights if the guest did have recourse to public funds.
The Scottish Government provided £77,898 of funding towards the operating costs of a RRWC in Glasgow which operated between December 2022 and March 2023. RRWCs are open to everyone. Personalised budget funding of £42,000 was provided to frontline organisations across Scotland allowing those organisations to respond flexibility to need in order to prevent rough sleeping.
Action 4: We will strengthen provision of financial assistance and wider local authority support to destitute families with children and vulnerable adults.
COSLA has been progressing work to understand the scale and complexity of support provided by local authorities to people with NRPF in their local communities. In 2022/23, COSLA officers worked with the Centre for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at Oxford University, to develop an annual reporting template to be issued to local authorities, which seeks to establish an authoritative evidence base on local authority provision for those with NRPF at risk of destitution. This evidence will be used to inform policy and practice on the provision of assistance and support. The data will be collated by COSLA and inform the national evidence base researchers at COMPAS are developing.
This UK-wide research entitled 'Understanding Migrant Destitution' (funded by abrdn Financial Fairness Trust), due for publication in January 2024, will provide the first comprehensive overview of social care provision for vulnerable people with no recourse to public funds across the four UK nations. This will be a valuable policy resource to demonstrate the impact of local authority activity in this area. To assist COSLA in better understanding work being carried out by Scottish councils, COSLA officers issued a survey to all 32 local authorities for completion at the end of February 2023. COSLA has collated and analysed survey responses to produce an aggregate data release in the COSLA Survey of Local Authority NRPF Support which outlines key data relating to NRPF support need and provisions for 2020/21 and 2021/22.
Survey responses provided by local authorities indicate that:
- In 2020/21, councils received at least 908 referrals for support under legal duties. Of these referrals, 578 individuals were provided with assistance. In 2021/22 there was a 48% increase in the number of referrals (1343) and a 40% increase in the number of cases supported (811).
- The majority of referrals and support provided in both years fell under the Children Scotland Act followed by support provided under the Public Health Act.
- Breakdown of referrals by immigration type indicated the highest level of referrals from those with leave to enter/remain with NRPF, followed by EEA nationals. Across both these categories there was a significant rise in the number of applications between 2020/21 and 2021/22: a 92.8% increase from those with NRPF conditions and a 138% increase for EEA nationals.
- The total reported spend by local authorities in supporting claimants with NRPF in 2021/22 was at least £5.9 million. Most of this expenditure was on accommodation costs (£5.13m) followed by subsistence (£480k) and staffing costs (£240k).
Going forward, COSLA will continue to issue annual NRPF local authority surveys to build an evidence base on NRPF support need and provisions and will work together with Scottish Government to ensure this data helps inform EDT strategy progress, including in how to develop and agree future funding and delivery models in line with the vision and principles of this strategy.
Action 5: We will update guidance and training to support local authority provision of services to people with NRPF.
COSLA has continued to develop its programme of work to update, strengthen, and support the development of guidance and training for local authorities on key NRPF priority areas.
Work to develop the national guidance on Migrants’ Rights and entitlements to Local Authority Support has been central to this; COSLA has been working closely with JustRight Scotland to revise and update the national guidance, to account for feedback from practitioners and review the document against existing policy. The updated version will specifically reflect recent policy and legislative changes to ensure it continues to provide accurate information and key guidance in this area of work, as well as act as a useful resource for local authority staff.
As part of this process, COSLA and JustRight Scotland have been consulting on the draft guidance update with a wide range of stakeholders; this has included at least 33 local authorities, public bodies and third sector organisations. COSLA officers have been coordinating engagement with councils to support their participation in this process via the NRPF Scotland Network and other key local authority networks and contacts. Feedback has been welcomed on the content, structure, format and accessibility of the materials as well as any case studies highlighting good local authority practice or insights into legal or practice issues that officers would like to see clarified in the guidance. COSLA and JustRight Scotland are now in the process of reviewing and incorporating the feedback received, with a view to finalising the guidance update in summer 2023.
Alongside the updated guidance, COSLA held a series of NRPF training events and resources, including an online webinar on migrants’ rights and entitlements with JustRight Scotland, to improve the skills and confidence of frontline local authority staff and to raise the awareness and understanding of migrants’ rights and entitlements to access support.
COSLA has also continued to provide operational support to local authorities in relation to NRPF policy and to host quarterly meetings of the national NRPF Scotland Network for local authorities. We remain committed to supporting good practice and scoping out models for training, awareness-raising and capacity-building for council staff on an ongoing basis. In autumn 2022, in response to developments around public health emergency accommodation provision, we organised four capacity-building sessions for local authority housing and homelessness staff in Edinburgh City Council to assist their officers supporting EEA nationals in their temporary accommodation provision. 43 LA officers attended these sessions which were designed and delivered together with immigration advisers from IOM who we work closely with to connect EDT Action 9 (IOM delivery lead) with other actions within the strategy. We are looking to extend this offer of training to other Scottish councils going forward and to tailor further sessions depending on local context and specific needs of individual councils.
In February 2023, COSLA organised a training session for councils on support options for people with NRPF which was delivered by the UK NRPF Network and had 30 attendees. A further training session on welfare benefits for EEA nationals was delivered to council staff by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in March 2023. COSLA will continue to develop and commission training and resources based on feedback and insight from councils in terms of NRPF priorities and challenges and promote opportunities to improve knowledge and practice, working to identify what would be most useful to councils in order to support people with NRPF.
Action 6: We will improve access to primary health services.
Work is underway to develop resources which will explain the right of people subject to NRPF to access health services. Resources will be developed for people with NRPF and for NHS staff. A scoping meeting was held with Just Right Scotland (JRS) to explore options for developing resources for people with NRPF.
Intelligence is being gathered from primary care frontline staff to understand any knowledge and training needs with regards to supporting people subject to NRPF to access health services. We have engaged with GP Practice Managers Network and plan to engage with pharmacy services, and NHS Inform.
Further consideration may be needed around raising staff awareness of the different types of barriers that people may experience.
NHS Education for Scotland have been made aware of this work and agreed to host any staff training materials on their learning zone to ensure maximum reach.
Action 7: We will improve access to mental health services for adults and children with NRPF by working to better understand the barriers and to collectively agree the practical actions that can be taken by local authorities, the Scottish Government and the NRS. We will also work to inform forthcoming work on mental health service renewal.
Funding was allocated in the 21/22 financial year to fund two projects to support mental wellbeing of people with NRPF. Following the funding year, the projects begun an evaluation process and are now looking to embed the learning from the evaluation. Project One found that three of their outcomes were so closely related they are now to be taken forward as a group rather than individually.
These outcomes were:
- Outcome 1. New Scots Advocacy - develop the role of New Scots Advocates, supporting people with lived experience and the appropriate language and cultural knowledge to develop mental health advocacy skills and to directly support individuals to access and navigate the local mental health system.
- Outcome 2. Workforce development - working in partnership with Simon Community Scotland and the Scottish Recovery Network and others to deliver a framework of mental health advocacy skills development for all staff engaged in helping people better understand their mental health issues, how best to engage with mental health support and treatment and recovery.
- Outcome 3. Trauma-informed therapeutic inputs for destitute asylum seekers - working in partnership with community-led groups and New Scots Advocates, we will develop and support a programme of activities and group work that contribute to overall wellbeing. As part of embedding the learning they are working with the Scottish Recovery Network to further develop the model of peer support and what their guests mean and need from peer support. Their fourth outcome was to improve understanding of the best way to support rights-based access to mental health support, and a model of practice to implement this. The evaluation findings were almost exclusively around structural and institutional barriers rather than improving an external approach. To a greater degree than anticipated, this may require legal support/challenge, rather than advocacy support.
- Outcome 4 is also being taking forward post project by the second project as following the completion of the project the two organisations merged.
Project Two: Recommendations from the evaluation into this work to address the mental health needs of those with NRPF involve improving practice, strengthening relationships and partnerships, strengthening peer support, decreasing stigma, engaging members of the community in service development and delivery; promoting staff learning and development; improving research; improving policy; improving press and media coverage.
Following completion of the project they are looking to further develop their applied practice, focusing on action research around peer support and strengthening the skills and understanding of the team. They are also integrating outcome 4 from project one for further development and exploration.
3.2 Advice and Advocacy
Action 8: We will invest in the provision of diagnostic legal advice delivered in partnership with advocacy support for people subject to NRPF, including expanding the geographical reach outside Glasgow.
During 2022-23, 5,772 calls were received by the National Helpline, delivered by the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) and Fair Way Scotland. 2,182 of these were calls from asylum seekers who had claimed asylum but found themselves homeless, needing legal advice or emotional support. Calls were received from 17 local authorities, with a large proportion of these calls from the central belt of Scotland.
SRC provided casework support for 352 destitute asylum seekers, 80% of whom were male and 20% female. A total of 3885 interactions with clients were done, including providing information on options available, advice on accessing rights and resources, advocating on behalf of people, signposting and referring when and as required.
On 21 December 2022, the Minister of State for Immigration, sent a letter to SG and relevant stakeholders, informing that negative cessations of asylum support for people living in the areas of Devolved Governments would start on 3 January 2023.
At the time of the cessation announcement, Home Office stated that 270 people were in Home Office accommodation at risk of destitution in Glasgow. This population includes people who are on Section 4 Covid only support and people who are appeal rights exhausted following a determination on their asylum claims.
The Home Office confirmed that all Section 4 negative cases would have a right of appeal and people would receive an appeal notification letter with their cessation letters.
Since January 2023, SRC has supported 45 people to respond to their cessation letters and 53 people to respond to their Section 4 Support Review letters from Home Office. 36 clients were assisted to submit an appeal to the asylum support tribunal with a 56% success rate. SRC meets weekly with British Red Cross, Govan Community Project and Community Info-source to share learning and exchange referrals.
Out of 352 people SRC worked with, 134 people are still at risk of immediate eviction from different types of accommodation and 91 are at risk of HO support cessations because they are currently staying in Home Office accommodation. 32% of the population currently supported are not supported by Home Office and have various forms of accommodation. 14 people are staying with friends and family, 2 are sofa surfing, 15 are people in Safe in Scotland accommodation and 4 in Social Work accommodation.
In April 2023, the Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees confirmed a further year of funding to support the delivery of the project delivered by SRC and Fair Way Scotland.
Action 9: We will increase access to specialist immigration advice to support local authorities assisting people with NRPF.
IOM’s casework capacity in Scotland is based with COSLA, and IOM and COSLA closely collaborate to provide support to all 32 local authorities in Scotland. During this reporting period, 128 individuals have accessed IOM services (includes local authority and third sector support staff engaged through outreach, training, and other activities). IOM received referrals for direct casework assistance and support requests from 14 local authorities and three third sector organisations and supported 93 vulnerable individuals through direct casework provision and second tier advice and support.
IOM’s OISC-registered caseworkers provide comprehensive direct and second-tier legal advice and assistance to vulnerable individuals to enable them to complete their immigration applications. The majority of casework support in this reporting period was related to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). There has been an increase in new referrals for Late EUSS applications, which amounted to over 60% of the caseload, highlighting the ongoing needs, as well as supporting clients with previously refused applications and joining family member (JFM) applications. Clients who have previously made an application are also provided with follow up support, help with meeting requests for additional information, and updating their details on the view-and-prove-your-status portal where required
Individuals referred to IOM face multiple intersecting vulnerabilities, with additional complexities linked to their applications (e.g. destitution, lack of proof of identity, lack of proof of residence, breaks of continuous period of residence, physical or mental health challenges, language and literacy barriers). Almost half the cases referred to IOM in this reporting period related to people who are homeless or rough sleeping who were referred for immigration advice for late EUSS applications through IOM’s close engagement with homeless charities and local authority housing teams. Many clients were referred for immigration advice when they were already at point of need, when their lack of immigration status became apparent due to its impact on their access to support, which exacerbated vulnerabilities and increased risks of destitution. This led to an urgency in submitting applications, emphasizing the vital need for access to this complex immigration advice and support in Scotland.
In this reporting period IOM has continued strengthening working relationships with local authority frontline teams and third sector organisations, as well as EDT delivery partners, leading to improved coordination and enhanced referral pathways in Scotland to help reach and support vulnerable individuals. IOM also continued compiling anonymised data to identify needs and develop an evidence base to help improve support provision to vulnerable beneficiaries as well as support local authorities in Scotland.
Action 10: We will extend financial support to people subject to NRPF where that is possible to do so, on the same basis. We will explore opportunities to ensure people are included in any new benefits developed through the extended social security powers. While these powers are limited, any new benefits should be made equally available to everyone living in our communities where possible.
Action 11: We will ensure that employability support is accessible to people subject to NRPF who have permission to work. We will improve understanding of the employability support needs of people with NRPF to strengthen the pathways of No One Left Behind
The main focus in 2022-23 has been on ensuring progress on actions supporting essential needs and advice and advocacy, as well as taking forward work on inclusion where possible. Scottish Government and COSLA officials aim to progress this work on these actions in 2023-24.
Action 12: We will contribute to development of the next Race Equality Action Plan to ensure that it takes into account the challenges faced by people with NRPF and explore what further action can be taken to ensure no one faces destitution.
The Race Equality policy team in the Scottish Government published a progress report examining the progress made on commitments contained within the Race Equality Framework (2016-2030) and the Immediate Priorities Plan (2021-2023) in 2023.
The report provides a detailed examination of progress made in relation to commitments made within the Race Equality Framework 2016-2030 (REF) and the Immediate Priorities Plan (IPP). Content has been mapped according to the six themes of the REF:
Theme 1: Overarching work
Theme 2: Community cohesion and safety
Theme 3: Participation and representation
Theme 4: Education and lifelong learning
Theme 5: Employability, employment and income
Theme 6: Health and home
This will identify what work remains in progress or is outstanding, and outlines approaches to be taken forward to advance anti-racism. The report contains updates on what has been achieved during year two of the delivery of EDT.
Relevant policy areas from across Scottish Government that are responsible for IPP and REF actions have been asked to review and update sections in the report. The Race Equality team has also engaged with funded organisations to discuss how they contribute towards REF actions, and this will be included in the publication.
Feedback on previous race equality action plans have been that it has been difficult to track and measure progress; some actions are vague and therefore there is a lack of tangible and meaningful outcomes. Ensuring continued relevance, accountability and measuring impact were also challenging areas. This supports the need to move to a programme of high-level systemic change in bringing about equity. Systemic change will entail working to identify and tackle high-level issues, in order to bring about meaningful change and create structures that work for all, moving away from short-term actions that simply serve to maintain inequitable systems.
The focus for the Race Equality team in 2023/24 will be on developing internal processes and governance mechanisms to provide oversight, scrutiny and support of policy areas throughout Scottish Government. This will be done in conjunction with the new Anti-Racism Observatory of Scotland, which will provide a range of functions to support and challenge the Scottish Government and the public sector, including:
- Bringing together quantitative and qualitative data on ethnic and racial inequalities in Scotland. This should not only include epidemiological data but also cultural, historical and other socio political and economic factors;
- acting as a repository which holds historical and current evidence from arrange of different sources to maintain awareness and inform actions;
- ensuring collaboration that reflects the consensus between the Scottish Government and all other relevant stakeholders that Scotland needs to better engage with the experiences of those racialised in society; and
- promoting co-production processes led by those who are most affected by its outcomes.
The Observatory will be a source of advice and support, and we would particularly want to work with the Observatory to ensure there are ongoing opportunities for knowledge exchange.
The Race Equality Team will continue to encourage the embedding of antiracism approaches across the EDT actions and remain available to help support other delivery leads achieve this when and where necessary.
Action 13: We will work with people with lived experience of destitution and NRPF to continue to inform and share the strategy during implementation.
Govan Community Project (GCP), in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, previously worked closely with the Scottish Government and COSLA on the development of the Ending Destitution Together (EDT) Strategy, through a project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The project ensured that the voices of people directly impacted by destitution/risk of destitution caused by immigration policy were heard, and their knowledge and experiences valued as equal co-production partners in policy development. This new project aims to build on this work. It will support and develop an inclusive forum which facilitates opportunities for the Scottish Government and other local and national policy makers to continue meaningful engagement with people with lived experience to inform the delivery and implementation of the EDT Strategy.
GCP will appoint a Group Coordinator to coordinate and support a group of people with lived experience, to work with the Scottish Government and COSLA on continuing community engagement with the implementation of the Scottish Government’s EDT strategy. As well as working on EDT, the groups will be able to help inform the update of the New Scots refugee integration strategy, as well as feeding into broader work across asylum and refugee integration.
The Coordinator will work collaboratively with partners to recruit participants, ensuring cross sectional representation from the different communities impacted by NRPF and support the group participants to gain the necessary skills to feel confident and empowered to work as equal partners with Scottish Government and COSLA colleagues. The Coordinator will play a key role in providing ongoing practical and wellbeing support to group participants to mitigate barriers to participation.
The funding provision will facilitate focused workshop events and review meetings; will cover participation costs for group members to ensure inclusivity; food vouchers; the use of loaned devices; and travel. A key part of this funding will provide participants with wellbeing wraparound support to ensure that people’s participation does not result in re-traumatisation. Inclusive communications will be required to bring together a wide range of views and experience which requires interpreters and translation of texts.
Through this project, the key outcomes are to ensure the implementation of EDT continues its commitment to highlight the lived experiences of those living in or at risk of destitution in informing delivery and evaluation of the strategy; the creation of a safe, nurturing and mutually inquisitive space to explore and evaluate agreed focused areas for discussion in relation to strategy implementation and interventions introduced/planned; ensuring individuals with lived experience are supported to develop skills and confidence in engaging with policy development work, becoming agents for change on policy issues which directly affect them. In addition to this, the project will support individuals with lived experience benefit from seeing their influence resulting in positive changes at local delivery level; witness the impact of the work of the group and the strategy on positive change in policy and practice in Scotland can be recognised and held up as a good practice model; and ensure that all organisations involved develop learning and good practice which can be shared with other agencies/service providers.
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