August 2022 Newsletter Newsletter

Good and Bad News in Britain – August 2022 Update

Good News Britain

  • The government has paused deportations to Rwanda until the new leader of the Conservative Party (and hence Prime Minister) is elected.
  • The Divisional Court has granted the application to adjourn the legal review of the legality of deportations to Rwanda until September. 
  • The Home Affairs Committee has said that there is no evidence that the deportations policy will deter people from trying to reach the UK. The cross-party group of MPs estimated that around 60,000 people are likely to attempt the crossing by the end of the year – up from 28,500 last year. 
  • British Triathlon has said that from next year transgender athletes who were born male will participate in an open category alongside men.
  • The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said that the government should apologise to unmarried women who were forced into unwanted adoptions during the 1950s and 1970s. It described this as a ‘grave wrong’ to mothers and their children who ‘still live with the legacy of suffering’.
  • By a majority of 3 to 2, the Supreme Court held that a serving diplomat does not enjoy immunity in an employment tribunal grounded in allegations of modern slavery.
  • The Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation has said that countries where it is illegal to be gay will be less likely to host future Commonwealth Games. However, more than half of the 54 countries which competed in the games in Birmingham this year currently have laws against same sex relationships.

Bad News Britain

  • According to latest government figures, there were 1,040 Ukrainian refugees who were either homeless or facing homelessness on 1 July, up from 660 a month earlier.
  • A Ukrainian woman and her mother who applied for visas under the Homes for Ukraine scheme were granted them in April, but the government in mid-July still had not granted her seven-month-old daughter a visa. After a newspaper contacted the government, the visa was granted within hours.
  • According to Shelter, over a million people are currently waiting for social housing. Since the Right to Buy was introduced in 1980, a total of 1,992,799 council houses have been sold via the scheme. The intention was to build new social housing to replenish supply but it is apparent that there is not enough money from sales to do this, resulting in a net loss of social housing. Also, analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing found that 40 per cent of the Right to Buy homes are now being let out privately. As a result, it is thought that £9bn is paid in housing benefit to private landlords.
  • A report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct found last year that black people were more likely to be subjected to prolonged Taser use compared with white people. Yet a government report evaluating plans to give tasers to volunteer officers thought that such a move would reduce racial inequality within the police and encourage more ethnic minority special constables.
  • Hostile policies brought in under the Coalition government severely restrict the number of visas available for adult dependent relatives. They can only be applied for while the person receiving it is living abroad which raises difficulties where, for example, an elderly parent becomes too ill to travel back during a visit.
  • An inquiry chaired by Tom Crowther QC and published in July found that more than 1,000 children in Telford were sexually exploited over decades amid failings by the police and the council. Both were aware of what was happening ‘in detail’.
  • Fears that freedom of speech is being stifled at English universities and other higher education institutions have been raised after the Office for Students, the independent regulator, revealed that a record number of speakers and events (almost 200) were rejected in 2020-21 compared with 94 in 2019-20.
  • The Justice Secretary pulled out of an appearance before the Joint Committee on Human Rights where he would have been asked questions about the proposed Bill of Rights.
  • The Forde inquiry in sexism and racism in the Labour Party found the ‘widespread existence’ of discrimination based on religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. It ruled that there was a toxic culture between 2015 and 2019.
  • According to Humanists UK, commitments to abortion and sexual health rights have been removed by the government from an international pact on freedom of belief and gender equality. The statement appeared on the website of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and was released at the time of the International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It was signed by 22 countries but has since been removed. Norway and Denmark have approached the Foreign Office to protest against these substantive changes and a number of human rights, abortion providers and women’s group have written to the Foreign Secretary expressing concern over the deletions.
  • Citizens Advice says it is now referring almost 700 people a day to food banks – up by around 300 a day over last year. Food bank operators have said that donations have dropped by 45 per cent while demand has increased by 50 per cent. The Food Foundation revealed that, in April, 7.3mn adults in the UK lived in households that had gone without food in the past month compared with 4.7mn in January.
  • Britain has so far accepted only about 50 Afghans on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many LGBTQ+ refugees helped to escape by the Aman Project have now been living in a camp for nine months in a country where it is illegal to be gay. Before they can be granted a place on the Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme (ACRS), LGBTQ+ people must now supply evidence that they are in danger and be referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In March, two dozen charities including Oxfam and the Refugee Council wrote to the Home Secretary saying that, as it currently stands, the ACRS offers little or no capacity for those at risk in Afghanistan to come to the UK in a safe and secure manner.
  • Transphobic crimes have increased fourfold in the last six years.
  • The Rugby Football Union Council has voted to ban trans women from the women’s rugby on the grounds that, to do otherwise, is unsafe and unfair. The RFU said that ‘advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression’. Currently, only six trans women play in the game after individually applying for permission.
  • The entire board of Cricket Scotland resigned ahead of the publication of a review, Changing the Boundaries, which identified 448 examples of institutional racism and found that Cricket Scotland failed in 29 out of 31 indicators of institutional racism.