Detail of EHRC review of ‘hostile environment’ policies published

Published: 01 Jul 2020

The terms of reference have been published for a statutory assessment by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of how the Home Office complied with equality law when developing, implementing and monitoring ‘hostile environment’ immigration measures.

The full details of the assessment, conducted under section 31 of the Equality Act 2006, outline how the regulator will examine whether and how the Home Office complied with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) in relation to understanding the impact of its policies on the Windrush generation.

David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

"The Windrush scandal inflicted lasting damage on the lives of many British citizens and exposed flaws in the UK’s immigration system. Lessons must be learned to protect future generations and we are committed to working with the Home Office to make sure this never happens again. 

“Our terms of reference set out how we are going to assess how well the Home Office considered the impact its policies would have on the Windrush generation, and what steps need to be taken to make sure that such impacts are better understood so that they can be avoided in the future.

“This review is part of our long-term strategy to tackle structural inequalities in Britain by ensuring public bodies use the PSED more effectively. In this tenth year of the Equality Act, we will work with government to put equality at the heart of its decision-making so that everyone has a fair chance to thrive.” 

The EHRC’s assessment will look at how the Home Office had due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity between people of different racial groups, with particular reference to colour, in:

  • developing immigration policy provisions enacted by the Immigration Act 2014, building on previous legislation, policy and practice, which increased requirements for individuals to prove immigration status to access private rented housing, healthcare, driving licences and banking
  • implementing the policy provisions, operational practices and procedures that led to more onerous requirements on individuals to produce documentation to confirm or change nationality or immigration status between 2014 and 2018, and
  • monitoring and reviewing the impact of such policies, practices and procedures between 2014 and 2018.

The outcome of the assessment will be to highlight how the Home Office can improve its compliance with the PSED, drawing on any areas of good practice as well as providing specific areas for improvement. The aim is to work with the department so that the impact on race equality is fully and properly considered in the development, implementation and monitoring of immigration policy, practice and procedures.

The full terms of reference are available here.

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