New Migrant Guide is ‘Unfit for Purpose’

New Migrant Guide is ‘Unfit for Purpose’

(17 June 2015)

A new report finds errors and omissions in the Government’s new guide for migrants. The A Practical Guide to Living in the United Kingdom costs £9.99 and provides information on health, education, work and volunteering to newly arrived migrants. It is designed to help migrants understand the legal requirements for short and long-term residency ‘to settle in quickly and enjoy your new life’.

Professor Thom Brooks, Chair in Law and Government at Durham University, has published a report exposing the guide as ‘unfit for purpose’. He found mistakes in the guide’s information on gaining residency and citizenship, on marrying or divorcing a non-British citizen and making tax payments.

The report uncovers surprising omissions such as reporting emergencies to the police, calculating and paying income and council taxes, and no mention of the coalition government’s flagship Police and Crime Commissioners. Estate agents and conveyancer are noted in the guide’s glossary, but not A&E or National Insurance.

Professor Brooks says: ‘The Government published a new citizenship test in 2013 that my previous report exposed as a bad pub quiz. They claimed migrants should know more about their responsibilities than rights to claim benefits. Ironically, the new Practical Guide includes more information about claiming benefits than ever before’.

The guide provides migrants with information about claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, legal aid and using the small claims courts.

Professor Brooks says: ‘It is unsurprising the author of the Practical Guide also wrote the Official Study Guide for the citizenship test. Both contain avoidable errors and omissions that should be obvious to anyone—like me—that has directly experienced migration first-hand. It makes me wonder how carefully such guides are checked by the Home Office’. Brooks is originally from the US and became a British citizen in 2011. He is a Labour Party member and advisor.

Professor Brooks’s report found more information about the health service, education and work in the Practical Guide for new migrants than the UK citizenship test.

‘This shows the Government has the wrong priorities. If it isn’t necessary for new citizens, why new migrants? The focus must be on contributing to British life and paying taxes, not a how-to guide to make claims for people who might not have visited the UK yet’.