Accession nationals forced onto streets

    A significant number of nationals from countries that recently
    joined the European Union are sleeping rough in central London, it
    was revealed last week.

    Thames Reach Bondway, a charity that works with homeless people in
    the capital, warned that the government’s progress on tackling
    rough sleeping could be undermined by the problem.

    A spokesperson said that a head count conducted by the charity in
    June in Victoria found 21 recent accession country nationals
    sleeping rough, just weeks after their countries joined the EU,
    entitling them to work in the UK. The group are not eligible for
    benefits.

    Westminster Council, which covers Victoria, said it was considering
    several ways to tackle the problem including paying the coach fare
    for people to return home if they wish.

    The council and the charity both said they had heard evidence of
    scams where people paid for a package giving them travel to the UK
    and a job but that when they arrived no employment was
    available.

    Most of those sleeping rough are from Poland. Both the council and
    the charity want the British and Polish governments to get the
    message to Polish people to make sure employment arrangements are
    confirmed before coming to the UK.

    “The government needs to liaise with the Polish government to
    ensure people know the streets aren’t paved with gold,” said a
    council spokesperson.

    The authority is meeting the Home Office later this month to
    discuss the issue.

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