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Refugee Action says Government is failing to provide necessary asylum support

Date of Publication: 
11 July 2017

Report finds asylum seekers wrongly denied assistance or facing long delays

Refugee Action says Government is failing to provide necessary asylum support

11 July 2017

A report published yesterday by Refugee Action found that the Government is failing to supply the necessary asylum support to many asylum seekers. The report found asylum seekers are being wrongly denied assistance or are suffering long delays to get the support they are entitled to.

You can read the 36-page report - Slipping through the cracks – How Britain's asylum support system fails the most vulnerable - here.

The report is based on over 300 case files from Refugee Action's operations in Manchester and London, and the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit's asylum support project Asylum Support Housing Advice (ASHA).

Refugee Action found that the Home Office can often take weeks and sometimes months to provide asylum seekers with the support and assistance that they are entitled to – "leaving them without access to regular meals or a roof over their head."

The report states: "The research presented here shows how widespread this problem is. It presents data collected from an analysis of hundreds of cases that show the challenges faced by people in need of asylum support in order to avoid destitution. In this report, we document the experiences of some of the many individuals and families who are kept waiting for months before they receive any assistance. They are forced to sleep on the streets or to rely on the generosity of friends and family, many of whom can barely afford to make ends meet themselves."

Refugee Action said it heard shocking accounts of the stress, anxiety and hopelessness felt by families left without support, including women who had attempted to take their own lives and young people receiving counselling after contemplating suicide.

Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, told the Guardian: "It is an appalling scandal and it has to stop. The government does have, on paper, policies and procedures to ensure that people who have fled war, abuse and persecution don't end up homeless. But in practice they are consistently in flagrant breach of those policies.

"The scale of the Home Office failure to follow those policies and procedures is pretty staggering. In more than nine out of 10 cases for them to change their mind and issue an approval for a request for accommodation and support when they refused it the first time is extraordinary. There's clearly a huge gulf between what the system should be doing for people and what it's actually doing in practice."

In light of the report's findings, Refugee Action called on the Government to urgently recommit to applying their existing policy and guidance consistently in all cases, including making decisions on support as quickly as possible.

Refugee Action also recommends that asylum seekers be given the right to work.

"Changes must be made to the UK's asylum support system if it is to respond effectively and promptly to the needs of the people it is intended to provide for. Without this, it is inevitable widespread destitution will persist amongst asylum seekers and that these most vulnerable of people will continue to slip through the cracks of the system," the report says.

Refugee Action says on its website that any asylum seekers who are experiencing difficulties accessing asylum support can email for help and advice.

A Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian that anyone who has an emergency need for accommodation can ask to be put in initial accommodation whilst their applications for support are processed.

The spokesman added: "Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation. We also cover utility costs and provide a cash allowance to cover other essential living needs."