The Immigration Bill and associated healthcare proposals and equality impacts: January 2014

Posted on Wed 22 Jan 2014

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Leander Neckles is a free lance equalities consultant and a Board member of Equanomics-UKThe Race Equality Foundation is working with the National AIDS Trust (NAT) and members of CORE (including Equanomics-UK) to gather evidence and raise race and wider equality concerns related to the Immigration Bill and proposed access to healthcare changes. 

The Immigration Bill is stalled in the House of Commons and the DoH healthcare proposals.

The Bill initially moved at speed through the Commons between October and November 2013. However, then the progress of the Bill stalled and as of 21/1/14, no dates have been announced for the Bill’s report stage or third reading in the House of Commons. If the Government aims to stick with its target of having the Bill on the statute books by spring 2014, the Bill will need to be considered by the Lords during February/March 2014.

Alongside the Immigration Bill, the Government intends to introduce significant changes to access to healthcare designed to limit the access of lawful and unlawful migrants, outline proposals were announced on 30th December 2013 by the Department of Health (DoH).

Equality impacts and the Immigration Bill and the health care proposals

The Bill spans six Whitehall departments and includes a plethora of measures declared to create a ‘hostile environment for illegal migrants.’ A broad range of race equality, migrant rights, human rights and health voluntary and community organisations argue that these measures are unjust, unworkable, expensive and potentially unlawful. We believe that the Bill, and the equally concerning health care proposals, will impact disproportionately on black and minority ethnic communities, whether: a) they are or are not recent migrants; and b) they are or are not undocumented migrants. New requirements to prove eligibility for public services, especially housing and healthcare, will lead to racial profiling.

We also believe that the women, people with long-term health issues, people with poor literacy and vulnerable people within our communities will be particularly affected by the proposed new restrictions on these services. Working in partnership with Equanomics-UK and the National AIDS Trust (NAT), we have provided a briefing setting out our initial assessment of some of the adverse equality impacts associated with both the Immigration Bill and the associated health care proposals. Our partners, the NAT, have provided a succinct assessment of the implications for health care in their Report Stage Briefing - Restricting migrant NHS Access: Impact on the UK’s HIV response.

More information about these proposals

If you want detailed information on the Immigration Bill,  JCWI/the Movement Against Xenophobia have drawn together a comprehensive parliamentary briefing pack on the provisions and detailed briefings have been published by JCWI and the National AIDS Trust.

Responding to the call for evidence from the Race Equality Foundation and partners?

We are seeking to gather evidence on the impact of key existing immigration provisions and on the likely impact of the proposals contained in the Immigration Bill and announcements made by the Department of Health. We have provided the link to our call for evidence. We would be incredibly grateful if you could respond to this call for evidence online by Monday, 3rd February 2014.