Report finds short move-on period carries unacceptably high risk of destitution
British Red Cross says 28-day 'move-on' period for newly recognised refugees should be extended to at least 56 days
17 December 2018
The British Red Cross earlier this month released a report with new research about the 28-day 'move-on' period for refugees. The move-on period is the time given to newly recognised refugees following a positive decision on their asylum claim, during which they move from asylum support to employment or mainstream benefits.
The 57-page report can be downloaded here.
For the report, the British Red Cross examined the current experiences of new refugees during the move-on period, and investigated the impact of several relevant policy and practice changes since 2014 on their risk of destitution – including the Universal Credit system, the Post Grant Appointment Service (PGAS) and Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs).
The British Red Cross says its research finds that more needs to be done beyond the 2014 changes.
In particular, the report found that 28 days is still not enough time for newly recognised refugees to move onto mainstream benefits or find somewhere new to live. All 26 refugees who took part in the research for the report faced problems and were left without their most basic needs for up to 72 days.
In addition, the report finds that Universal Credit has made it almost inevitable that refugees will be left without support. The British Red Cross says automatic 35-day wait to receive the first Universal Credit payment is completely incompatible with the 28 days afforded to newly recognised refugees to access Universal Credit.
The safeguards within the Universal Credit system to ensure claimants are not left without support are often not accessed by refugees. They are often unaware that they are eligible or cannot receive them because they don't have a bank account.
The report concludes: "The 2018 research presented in this report found that while there have been some positive developments since the 2014 research and report (Carnet et al./British Red Cross 2014), the move-on period still exposes newly recognised refugees to an unacceptably high risk of destitution, as the 28-day move-on period of continued asylum support is not long enough for them to open a bank account and apply for and receive their first benefit payment and then arrange alternative accommodation. This is particularly evident in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out, as the first Universal Credit payment cannot be made until at least five weeks (35 days) after submitting the application, clearly exceeding the 28-day safety net afforded by the move-on period. We therefore conclude that that one part of current government policy – the five-week minimum waiting period for the first Universal Credit payment – is incompatible with another – the 28-day move-on period – thus exposing refugees to almost inevitable destitution."
The report makes the following four recommendations:
- The move-on period for newly recognised refugees should be extended to at least 56 days, allowing time to apply for a bank account and for benefits followed by the minimum 35-day waiting period for the first Universal Credit payment.
- The level of support and accessibility of information provided to newly recognised refugees to help them navigate the move-on period should be improved, ensuring they are fully informed of and engaged with the decisions they are making.
- Refugees should be able to navigate the application process for Universal Credit with support as required and payments should be made as soon as possible.
- Newly recognised refugees should be able to quickly and easily open bank accounts.
The Refugee Council welcomed the report, with Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, saying: "We echo the calls made by the British Red Cross in this important piece of research and urge the Government to act now."