City of Sanctuary UK has signed an open letter calling out Britain Thinks for the consultation it organised into the Government’s New Plan for Immigration between March and May this year. Along with other charities it asked the think tank to return any profit it made from a consultation it ran on behalf of the Home Office.
The consultation asked the public their opinions on changes to Government policy on refugees and the asylum system, which includes offshoring, criminalisation, and introducing a second class of refugee.
The consultation was roundly criticised by charities and research organisations as a sham at the time, with claims of leading questions, short time scale to respond, and a failure to properly involve refugees and people seeking asylum.
The letter says: “[As former and current refugees and people seeking asylum] We are deeply disappointed that you decided to support the UK Government’s consultation on its New Plan for Immigration.
“You tokenistically reached out to refugees and lived experience groups to ask for our feedback a staggering 8 days after the consultation had already closed.”
It adds: “If this plan is adopted, countless people seeking refuge in the UK will be deprived of their right to seek asylum.
“It is morally repugnant for corporations and think tanks such as yourselves to profit from the abuse and misery of people seeking sanctuary.”
The letter not only calls on Britain Thinks to return profits made from the consultation, it urges the think tank to divorce itself from the Home Office and issue a letter of apology to refugees and people in the asylum system.
Despite the criticisms levelled at consultation, three in four people who responded disagreed with the Government’s New Plan for Immigration. However, the Government has indicated it will largely ignore opposition to the New plan for Immigration raised in the consultation.
The New Plan for Immigration, which paved the way for the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, has been called callous, cruel, unworkable and unlawful by refugee organisations across the UK. It sets out plans to send refugees overseas to process their asylum claims, criminalise people crossing the Channel in boats, and forcing refugees to live in warehouse style accommodation.
William Gomes, said:
“The Home Office has consistently failed to listen to charities’ concerns during consultations, particularly those that expressed their opposition to the bill and the continued hostile environment for refugees and asylum seekers.
“It is past time that the Home Office began to listen to the concerns of charities and issued an apology letter to everyone who has been harmed by its actions.”
Emmanuel, a member of the City of Sanctuary Experts by Experience Operational advisory group, said:
“We as Asylum Seekers, Refugees and experts by experience, are disappointed and want Britain Thinks to note our concerns that they have not consulted the concerned people that matter, adequately and on time.
“The short timescale and lack of support to help us engage has turned the whole exercise into a sham.
“We would like for them to walk away and divorce themselves from the UK Government’s consultation and return the profits they received from the Home Office to run this consultation among other things and be an organisation that does what it says, an organisation that portrays ‘integrity, Inclusivity and empathy’ as their core values in regards to a fair world where people seeking sanctuary in the UK are treated with dignity.”