Refugee Action calls for increase to asylum support rates to prevent destitution and suffering

Last updated April 12, 2013Press release

A leading national charity that works to enable refugees to build new lives in the UK has called on the Home Office to increase asylum support rates in its written submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry on asylum.

Evidence shows that the current asylum support system is not fit for purpose and fails to meet peoples’ essential living needs, forcing them to live below the poverty line.

Research conducted by Refugee Action reveals that current policy and practice under Section 4 support pushes some of the most vulnerable people in society into poverty and destitution, preventing them from properly engaging with the asylum process.

A single adult on Section 4 support receives £35.39, or £5 per day, which constitutes less than half of the equivalent Income Support rate. A lone parent with a baby under the age of one receives only 59 per cent of Income support  and a pregnant woman receives just 54 per cent.

The charity has called for the Home Office to abolish Section 4 support to avoid further bureaucratic disruption and raise asylum support levels under Section 95 to avoid further suffering.

In its written submission, the national charity has made the following key recommendations:

  • Asylum support levels need to be raised to at least 70 per cent of Income Support and replace the Azure card scheme with cash payments under Section 95
  • The Home Office must urgently focus on raising the quality of asylum decision making so as to reduce the likelihood of people with ongoing protection needs ending up destitute at the end of the asylum process
  • UK policy makers and stakeholders must reach agreement on how the asylum process is working against the uptake of Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) by refused asylum seekers, and remove barriers in the system for the delivery of a sustainable AVR programme

Refugee Action Policy and Information Manager, Sile Reynolds, said: “We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Committee’s inquiry on asylum and call for more sustainable outcomes for asylum seekers in order to build higher levels of public confidence in the system. The Home Affairs Select Committee are strongly urged to investigate the issue of asylum support rates which is currently forcing people into abject poverty and destitution. Our current asylum support system  does not comply with the Government’s own obligations to meet the essential living needs of asylum applicants, and fails to uphold the human rights of many individuals seeking protection in this country and undermines public confidence in the asylum system. Refugee Action welcomes the chance to provide further oral evidence on asylum support, destitution and assisted voluntary return, to support the Committee’s inquiry on asylum in the UK.”

Full details of the written submission can be viewed at: http://learn.refugee-action.org.uk/about/resources/745_home_affairs_select_committee_inquiry_on_asylum_-_april_

ENDS

For more information or to request and interview please contact Press and PR Officer, Antony Watson, on 020 7952 1530 / 07771 748159 or email antonyw@refugee-action.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

  • Refugee Action is a national charity working to enable refugees to build new lives in the UK. We provide practical advice and assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers and long-term commitment to their settlement through community development work. As one of the country’s leading agencies in the field, Refugee Action has 30 year’ experience in pioneering innovative work in partnership with refugees so that they can achieve their full potential. For more information, please visit: www.refugee-action.org.uk