The “hostile environment” was announced in 2012 by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.
Her stated aim was to create: ‘a really hostile environment’ in the UK for undocumented migrant people’.
New laws in 2014 and 2016 made access to public services difficult, or impossible, for undocumented migrant people, but lots of other people were affected too.
Anyone who had non-standard paperwork experienced problems when they used public services and there are cases where people with the correct paperwork were affected too.
UNISON believes that the ‘hostile environment’ has put public services under enormous pressure and put staff in an impossible position.
Immigration controls are now embedded in everyday interactions between public sector workers and the people they are supposed to serve: nurses and patients, police and victims of crime, and teachers and their pupils.
At a time when the NHS is under immense pressure, government policy has undermined the trust between health staff and the communities they serve. This cannot be allowed to continue. Things need to change.
The Conservative government introduced ‘up-front’ charges for those patients they say are not eligible for free healthcare from the NHS – including community healthcare services.