Rochdale gives in to new asylum law pressure

Rochdale Council has confirmed that it has evicted an Angolan woman and her child under controversial new asylum laws being piloted in the area.

A spokesperson for the council said it was instructed by the National Asylum Support Service to end accommodation support for the woman “because she had failed to fulfil the terms of her participation in the section 9 pilot”.

Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, which is being tested in Leeds, Bradford, north London and Greater Manchester, allows the removal of support for families whose asylum applications have been rejected but who make no attempt to leave Britain voluntarily.

The eviction went ahead despite the council being a signatory to a letter to the National Asylum Support Service outlining the concerns about the policy of the North-West consortium of local authorities providing accommodation to asylum-seekers.

The council said the woman was now staying with a friend and was receiving some financial support for her child.

However the consortium has asked Nass to review the section 9 pilot immediately to avoid any distress and suffering being caused to children. If a family is left destitute as a result of a section 9 ruling, the local authority may be obliged to take any children into care in order to meet its duty to safeguard their interests and welfare.

In Bury, where section 9 was also recently used successfully against an Iranian family who are now considering seeking judicial review, executive member for health and well-being Tim Chamberlain said: “Local authorities are finding themselves caught between seeking to comply with the law as it stands under section 9 but also trying to ensure the welfare of families, and particularly children, under the Children Act.

“We are reviewing all our options, in particular the desire to keep the family together in this process. We are also seeking clarification from the Home Office about the legal position.”

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