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Illegal Migration Bill resources for LAs

(updated 25/05/2023)

Background and general provisions

The Illegal Migration Bill (IMB23) as set out currently in Parliament has the following main core provisions. We should caveat that there is still a huge amount of uncertainty as to how the bill will be operationalised and what the actual impact will be, so the following is just to provide some initial background and space for thinking about potential implications.

Asylum Claims

  1. All irregular arrivals after 7th March 2023 will have their asylum claims ruled permanently inadmissible including those made by any children to principal applicants

An Irregular arrival is an arrival by any means without the relevant leave to enter or valid entry clearance, visa etc or if such entry clearance was obtained by deception. An inadmissible claim means that the claim would not be explored


  1. The Home Secretary would have extended powers to detain all inadmissible claims without possibility of bail for the first 28 days & places a duty on the Home Sec to seek their removal within that 28 period

The Bill does not set a maximum limit on the detention period but for the first time prevents Immigration Bail or the detention decision being challenged within the 28-day period


  1. The Bill lists 32 countries deemed as ‘safe countries’ to which inadmissible first country National claims can be removed to – covering Europe inc. Albania. In reality only first country Nationals from these 32 countries can be removed to their home country
  2. The Bill lists 57 countries that it considers to be ‘Safe Third Countries’ – countries that non-Nationals can be removed to – only 1, Rwanda, has agreed to receive inadmissible asylum seekers from the UK, currently under legal challenge

In reality the Bill materially reduced the ability to remove first country Nationals to their home country, only Albanian Nationals are among the asylum cohort that will remain removable to their home country. And the only other route to removal – Rwanda, has limited capacity and is under legal challenge.  Here’s an excellent briefing on this complex aspect from Migration Observatory


  1. The Bill essentially treats migrant survivors of modern slavery in exactly the same manner as those wishing to enter the asylum system, if their arrival is after 7th March their claim for asylum will be blocked and, crucially, they will not be eligible for any NRM support (National Referral Mechanism)

This essentially means that survivors of slavery will not receive any support or protection from the Home Secretary, they will be detainable & removable to the same extent as other ‘irregular’ migrants.


  1. All of the provisions apply equally to children and adults.
  2. The Bill removes the ‘Every Child Matters’ principles from Home Office decision making for children arriving irregularly after 7th March
  3. The Bill makes provision for accommodation for Unaccompanied Children but contains no standards, safeguarding, protective obligations, or time limits
  4. There is no explanation as to children’s access to their entitlements from LA children’s services & how these will interplay with whatever Home Office provision is made available
  5. The Bill creates a power for the Home Secretary to terminate a child’s ‘looked after’ status & proposes an ability for her to direct a LA to cease looking after the child

Likely Impact 

There are two main areas where the Bill is likely to have a significant impact;

  • There will be no route to status for all irregular arrivals and materially compromised removal routes. Refugee Council project that this will result in between 161,000 & 192,000 people that will be unable to claim asylum & not be removable by the end of the third year of the Bill’s implementation. This group of people will have no access to work and will not benefit from the existing asylum support provisions. The Refugee Council’s impact assessment is here.
  • There is likely to be a considerable rise in people avoiding detection from fear of detention including people in situations of slavery and exploitation

Direct impact on LA’s

In essence the Bill effectively significantly increases the pool of people who are NRPF (No Recourse to Public Funds) & therefore is likely to lead to a significant rise in street homelessness, exploitation & destitution.

Crucially the Bill also closes the route to status – so whilst temporary support to someone who’s NRPF may be achievable within LA resources typically a move on plan centres around a route to status – the provision of immigration advice, a fresh asylum claim or Further Representations.  The Bill renders claims inadmissible permanently and also limits Human rights based claims.  This effectively means that there will be no end point for LA support other than Voluntary Return. For those making dangerous crossings in small boats voluntary return is typically of very low uptake – if home is so bad you’re willing to risk your life to get here, it’s unlikely you’ll be keen to explore a voluntary return to the same situation you’ve been forced to flee from.

LA Considerations


As stated above – it is unclear what interplay the provisions of the Bill will have with existing Children’s Legislation e.g. The Children’s Act 1989 (England); Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 (Wales).  But it’s likely that approaches for support under the respective legislation will increase significantly.

Wales note: Jane Hutt MS, Minister for Social Justice has laid a Legislative Consent Memorandum and will be recommending Senedd withholds its consent for the UK Government to legislate to place duties on Welsh local authorities in respect of children’s social care under the Illegal Migration Bill.

Accommodation arrangements are also unclear but is likely to formalise the practice of placing unaccompanied children in hotels – environments of significant risk

Broadly the Bill’s application to children is one of the areas most likely to see Parliamentary push back – we may see an agreement to disapply the Bill’s provisions to children Under 18. Whilst this would be a positive step it would also significantly increase the risks to children approaching their 18th birthday when detention looms for them.  Also having children correctly age assessed will become more important than ever referrals to LA’s social care for age assessments are likely to increase significantly should migrant children be exempt from the provisions of the Bill


It is unclear how or whether people with inadmissible claims will be accommodated by the Home Secretary – it’s difficult to see how they can do otherwise. The Bill is written to assume detention & removal – but given removal routes will be so restricted and the detention estate in the UK is limited to around 2800 bed spaces, approx. an addition 1000 are held in the prison estate. That would represent less than one month of irregular arrivals in the UK – so clearly there will need to be some non-detained accommodation – and a lot of it.

Praxis/NACCOM Impact of the Illegal Migration Bill on Homelessness & Destitution Briefing 

Without understanding what this looks like and the mechanism for accessing it, it’s difficult to project the precise impact on LA’s – however it’s likely to be of very low quality with significant support & welfare concerns, it’s also likely to further attract the attention of those with anti-migrant views.  Current suggestions are around disused barracks and prisons.  Hostile accommodation sites such as these have considerable impact on Local communities & LA’s including the following;

  • Anti-Migrant activity, marches, demonstrations impacting policing
  • High rates of suicidal ideation, self harm and other mental & physical health crisis impacting on primary care services
  • High rates of people absconding and people choosing street homelessness over this form of institutional accommodation
  • High rates of people entering black market employment or exploited by criminal gangs – from car washes to cannabis factories

Slavery & Exploitation

Critically there will be no support for people here in the UK trapped in exploitation or slavery. The Bill disincentivises people asking for help – if they do they will be detected and subject to removal.  LA’s are likely to see a growth in people continuing in situations of slavery and exploitation without any route to encourage people to engage with the police and pursue prosecution from a position of safety.


The Bill is currently making it’s way through Parliament.  The Lords continue to raise questions & debate amendments and many of the provisions detailed above may be subject to change as the Bill moves back to the Commons.

Should the Bill be passed as it stands proposed it is highly likely to be subject to significant legal challenge. The question will be what happens to people while those challenges are underway. Local Refugee & Asylum charities are already stretched to breaking point in coping with the huge backlog in the current asylum system, asylum decisions are still incredibly slow progress. Between LA’s and local NGO’s there will be a continued rise in support need but without the asylum system offering any basic support to this cohort.

For further detail on the Bill and the potential for legal challenge ILPA have compiled this excellent briefing 

Further Resources

  • On resourcing for Local Government and potential impacts, COSLA have published data on support cases and cost for those with NRPF in 2020/21 and 2021/22
  • Law Centres Network-Exhaust all options to house the homeless: guidance to councils

(Big thanks to Lou Calvey of Safer Foundations for helping us put together this initial set of thoughts and resources )