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Asylum Matters says alarmingly low levels of asylum support forcing people to live below the poverty line


Report finds a majority of asylum seekers don’t always have enough money for food

Date of Publication:
02 November 2020

Asylum Matters says alarmingly low levels of asylum support forcing people to live below the poverty line

02 November 2020

The charity Asylum Matters, which works to improve the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum, today published a report on the reality of life on asylum support.

ReportThe 13-page report is here.

The level of asylum support was increased during the Covid-19 pandemic to £39.60 a week, up from £37.75. Following a review by the Home Office, it was further increased in October to £39.63, a rise of just 3p a week.

Emma Birks, campaigns manager at Asylum Matters, told the Guardian that 3p was "an insult, not an increase."

Asylum Matters said in its report: "Asylum support levels are alarmingly low at £39.63 per person per week or £5.66 a day, forcing people to live below the poverty line for months, or even years at a time. This negatively impacts on their health, wellbeing and, and has a particularly devastating impact on children."

For the report, Asylum Matters surveyed people in the asylum system and organisations providing support to people in the asylum system. A total of 184 people responded to the survey.

The key findings from the report are as follows:

• 92% of respondents stated they did not have enough money to buy all they need;

• 84% said they don't always have enough money to buy food;

• 63% of people stated they could not always afford the medicines they needed;

• Only 1 in 4 people stated they could afford essential cleaning products;

• 95% of people stated they could not afford to travel by public transport;

• Only 1 in 10 people could afford data and phone credit they needed;

• Recent opinion polling found 64% of people thought the amount people received was too little.

Asylum Matters concludes: "People seeking asylum and living on asylum support are regularly unable to meet their essential living needs. Barred from working, they are entirely reliant on financial support from the Home Office to survive. However, whether it's buying enough food for themselves and their families, affording data to be able to stay in contact with essential services, or buying enough clothes for their children, people seeking asylum are forced into a constant state of financial precarity, whereby they often have to trade off one basic living need for another … People seeking asylum should not be locked into poverty by an unfair system."

Among the report's recommendations, Asylum Matters calls on the Home Office to increase rates of asylum support to allow individuals and families to meet their essential living needs.

In addition, Asylum Matters says asylum seekers should have the right to work after six months of waiting for a decision on their asylum claim.

Following the increase of 3p a week in asylum support, a spokesperson for the Home Office told the i: "We acted quickly and decisively earlier this year to look after asylum seekers' wellbeing during the pandemic by increasing the level of asylum support to ensure essential needs are provided for. We are fixing our broken asylum system and introducing a new one which is firm and fair."