The Home Office today announced that the cripplingly low level of support paid to people seeking asylum in the UK will remain unchanged. This decision follows a landmark legal battle by Refugee Action which resulted in the High Court ordering the Home Office to review the level of support.
Refugee Action is warning that this disappointing decision will continue to push some of the most vulnerable individuals and families in our society further into poverty. Thousands of people who are banned by the government from working are being forced to live on as little as £5.23 a day.
In its legal case earlier this year, the charity challenged the Home Secretary’s decision to freeze levels of asylum support for the third year in a row. The High Court ruled in favour of Refugee Action stating that the Home Secretary was ‘irrational’ in her decision making and ‘misunderstood information’ when freezing the low level of financial support.
Commenting on the review, Refugee Action Chief Executive Dave Garratt said:
“We are appalled by this decision. It will have a devastating impact on the dignity and wellbeing of thousands of individuals and families in our government’s care. Refugee Action refuses to accept that this is a rational response to the judge’s ruling.”
In its review, the Home Office suggests that asylum seekers need, for example, no more than £1.08 per week to spend on toiletries, £2.51 per week on clothes and footwear and £3.00 on bus and train fares. It also suggests that £23.88 is sufficient to cover weekly food costs for an adult.
In some cases, the review halves the typical spending habits of the poorest 10 per cent of the British population as a benchmark for the amount required by a person seeking asylum.
Dave Garratt added:
“Ask any member of the British public in the lowest income band how much they struggle. How then can our government think it humane to force other families to survive on as little as half as much again?
“The evidence presented in the review doesn’t tally with real-life experiences of people seeking safety in the UK. Every day at Refugee Action we support people who, having been forced to flee their home in fear of their life, are now cut off from society and unable to pursue their asylum cases adequately due to these unreasonable and outrageously low levels of support.
“Meanwhile at Refugee Action we are considering all our options on further action on this issue. We will not give up until we see treating people with dignity and respecting human rights high on our government’s agenda.
Vianney, father of three from West Africa, whose family is forced to live on support rates comments:
“When you are working you can support your children. If you are hard-working and you cannot work for a long period of time, it will be even harder to find work if you get status. If we want to eat, our money is just for food.
“If we need to go to any appointment we are forced to walk. It’s stressful when I’m at home all day and my children are asking me for things, and I can’t provide.”
Find out more about our campaign to Bring Back Dignity to our asylum system.