Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) successfully worked together to represent a client whose benefits were not only stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), but they demanded 7 years’ worth of benefits of over £30,000, back from him. The reason was that he was wrongly classified as having no leave to remain by the Home Office.
Unfortunately this is just another example that has come to light affecting the Windrush generation and shows the burden it puts on victims and their families. As ever, the focus needs to be on challenging legislation and the treatment of migrants as a whole, as these cases aren’t anomalies, they’re part of a purposefully-created hostile environment. But we are glad to have been able to help in this instance.
GMLC represented him in his DWP case and GMIAU represented him in his immigration case.
Mr A is a Sierra Leone national, born in the mid 50’s, who came to the UK in 1970 when he was 15 years old. He arrived to join his parents and has the passport he arrived on which is endorsed with an entry certificate ‘to join parents’ and no restrictions on entry.
He was in receipt of benefits but had this stopped in 2016 because he was deemed to have no status in the UK. He then received a decision from the DWP seeking to recover all the benefits paid to him since 2009, adding up to a total of over £30,000. This was in April 2016
These decisions were made by the DWP on the basis that they had contacted the Home Office to find out whether Mr A was entitled to benefits and had been told, in March 2016, that Mr A ‘had no leave to remain in the UK’. Since his arrival Mr A had no contact with the Home Office, so they would have no records of his existence on their system.
The DWP would, in particular, have no proof of his entry to the UK as his landing card would have been one of those destroyed by the Home Office in 2010. The Home Office also did not contact Mr A at any stage to find out about his history, so it is clear that they automatically classified him as having ‘no status’ because he was not on their system.
This wrong classification has directly led to Mr A having no income and consequently no accommodation since April 2016 and having to live with the stress of owing over £30,000 in benefits plus a possible criminal charge for defrauding the benefits system. In the meantime, he was supported by his family.
GMLC appealed against the decisions that he owed this money and the DWP confirmed at an initial hearing that their decision was solely based on the Home Office response that he had no status.
He then applied for, and was granted, a permanent stay card under the ‘Windrush’ procedure.
The DWP have just recently confirmed that they are withdrawing their decision given that he has received his ILR card.
Not only was Mr A relieved of the pressure of having to pay back a vast amount of money, but the fight for his rights by GMIAU and GMLC resulted in him receiving in July this year £8,041.01 in back dated benefits.
In his thank you card to us he says: “Thanks for your perseverance and doing the right thing.”
We are now fighting for additional compensation for the mental stress that he has been under because of the totally incorrect classification by the Home Office, that he had no status which directly led to his benefits being stopped
If you need help or know someone who does:
Contact Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) for immigration issues.
Phone 0161 7407722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries about representation.
Contact Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) for ESA and PIP benefits issues.
Phone 0161 769 224 or email email@example.com.