Refugee Council Universal Credit Warning

The Refugee Council’s response to the DWP consultation, March 2017, on the roll out of Universal Credit warns that it will result in the increase of destitution and homelessness of refugees moving from asylum support.

They say that:

  • The government should urgently address the anomaly of the asylum support system and Universal Credit timescales to avoid routinely forcing new refugees into destitution and homelessness.
  • Flexibility must be built into the application procedure in order not to exclude those with no National Insurance Number and/or no bank account at the time of application.
  • A solution must be sought to the effect of limiting the Universal Credit Advance to those already assessed to be eligible, in order to avoid complete destitution.

To read the Refugee Council submission click  here Refugee_Council_Universal_Credit

All Party Parliamentary report warns that many newly recognised refugees face destitution and homelessness

April 2017

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees has produced a report titled ‘Refugees Welcome?’. The report identifies a two-tier  system of support, and warns that Government policy leaves many newly recognised refugees at risk of homelessness and destitution.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • a National Refugee Integration Strategy
  • a Minister for Refugees

To view the report click here: APPG_on_Refugees_-_Refugees_Welcome_report

Red Cross Reports Rising Number of Destitute Asylum Seekers in the UK

A report by the red Cross has reported a rising number of destitute asylum seekers in the UK. To read the report click here: http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Media-centre/Press-releases/2016/July/Destitution-on-the-rise-among-refugees-and-asylum-seekers

Almost 5,600 refugees and asylum seekers have been destitute in the UK in the first half of this year, according to British Red Cross.

Destitute refugees and asylum seekers by nationality

  1. Sudan: 642 (11%)
  2. Eritrea: 587 (10%)
  3. Iran: 580 (10%)
  4. Syria: 361 (6%)
  5. Iraq: 297 (5%)

With destitution rising among asylum seekers in Scotland how could the system work better?

Liam Kirkaldy writing in the award winning current affairs magazine ‘Holyrood’ asks what can be done about rising destitution among asylum seekers. To read his article click here:

https://www.holyrood.com/articles/inside-politics/uks-system-asylum-support-fit-purpose

 

Red Cross: Record Number of UK Destitute Asylum Seekers

The British Red Cross have said that a record number of asylum seekers in Britain are being left destitute, and planned legislation could plunge thousands more into poverty. The charity said it had supported more than 9,000 refugees and asylum seekers who were destitute last year, compared with 7,700 in 2014. The youngest was less than one year old and the oldest was 81.

The Red Cross said an Immigration Bill, being debated in the House of Lords was expected to reduce asylum support further. Some 29,000 people applied for asylum in Britain between September 2014 and October 2015, 19 percent up from the previous year. Nearly 44% of destitute asylum seekers supported by the Red Cross were from Eritrea, Sudan, Iran and Syria, which are among the biggest sources of refugees.

London (Thompsons Reuters Foundation) 12 January 2016

Magistrate resigns after paying asylum seekers court costs

Guardian newspaper articles have reported that the steep rises in court fees, introduced in April 2015, is having a devastating impact on poor people convicted of minor offences and who are unable to pay the new court fees. One report concerned a senior magistrate who resigned after being suspended for paying £40 pound from his own pocket to pay towards the court fees imposed on an asylum seeker whose only means of support was £35 per week top-up card to be used in specified shops. Another report cited the Lord Chief Justice’s criticism of the court fees and a judge in Truro who told a defendant as he imposed a £900 charge: “The charge has no bearing on your ability to pay. It is totally inappropriate for people of no means to have to pay this charge. It happens to be current government policy but as an independent judge I regard it as extremely unfair.”

View the reports here:

Magistrate resigns

Judicial criticism

Government Consults on Ending Support for Refused Asylum Seekers with Children

Following the announcement that asylum support would be cut for children from 10 August 2015, the government have released a consultation document that proposes to end support for refused asylum seekers with children and to remove the right of appeal against Home Office decisions to stop asylum support.

Please contact your MP to protest at these draconian proposals.

View the consultation paper here.

Click on the organisations below to see their consultation responses:

Asylum Appeals Project

Still Human Still Here

Reduction in Asylum Support Rates for Families

From the 10 August 2015 all asylum seekers will receive a standard rate of £36.95 per week irrespective of age. Currently, children under 16 are granted £52.96 and so the effective cut for a couple with 2 children would be £30.64 each week.

Ministers said the cuts, which would affect more than 27,800 destitute asylum seekers, were being made because the current payment system resulted in families with children in particular receiving “significantly more cash than is necessary” to meet their essential living needs.

The Refugee Council described the cuts as “utterly appalling” for families who were not allowed to work and said they would plunge children further into poverty: “We suspect the only place that families can live on this amount of money is in the imagination of government ministers,” the council’s policy officer, Judith Dennis, said.

University of Birmingham Report: Poverty among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

The Report concludes that:

“The review of evidence suggests that enforced poverty and destitution is a central feature of UK asylum policy, as compromising poor housing and a reduced level of welfare benefits. Many asylum seekers and refugees have endured persecution including rape, torture, multiple loss and denial of basic human rights: their poverty does nothing to alleviate the on-going physical and mental after effects. This review suggests that reducing the incidence of poverty and destitution as a matter of urgency would i) improve the quality and fairness of the asylum process and ii) lead to improved refugee health, wellbeing and integration.

View the report here.

Home Office declares that asylum support rates will not increase despite high court challenge

Lisa Doyle, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said: “This is a shocking decision which will only serve to ensure that asylum seekers are trapped in poverty. We are extremely alarmed that the Government looked at the evidence and then concluded that it’s happy with people being forced into a situation where they struggle to eat or get the medication they need.”

View the Home Office Asylum Support Letter here