Skip to main content
Skip to main content

New Refugee Action and NACCOM report finds refused asylum seekers face destitution and delays accessing asylum support


Evidence from 200 asylum support applications finds people waiting up to seven times the recommended time limit

Date of Publication:
06 September 2019

New Refugee Action and NACCOM report finds refused asylum seekers face destitution and delays accessing asylum support

06 September 2019

Refugee Action and the No Accommodation Network (NACCOM) yesterday published a new report looking at how vulnerable people refused asylum in the UK are being failed by the Government's asylum support system, leaving them destitute.

Report coverThe 16-page report can be read here.

Refugee Action says evidence from 200 asylum support applications to the Home Office reveal that people are being made to wait for up to seven times the Government's own recommended time limit for a decision on their application for support.

The report looks in particular at 'Section 4' support, which is available under the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act to a limited number of people who have had their asylum claims refused and who meet a narrow set of criteria.

Section 4 provides accommodation and support to the value of £35.39 per week.

While the Government's own guidance on Section 4 support states that decisions should generally be made within 5 working days, and high-priority cases within 2 working days, Refugee Action and NACCOM found that the Home Office is failing to meet its own timelines, with terrible consequences for the individuals affected.

The report's key findings are as follows:

  • On average, people waited 14 days for a decision on their asylum support application. This is seven times longer than the 2-day maximum that decisions should take for the most vulnerable applicants, and three times longer than the 5-day maximum that all decisions should take according to the Home Office's own guidance.
  • One person had been waiting 124 days to receive a decision on their section 4 application, with their application still pending when our data collection ended in June 2019.
  • Of the 200 cases, almost half of applicants (44 percent) had waited more than 14 days for a decision on their case.
  • People who had received requests for further information on their applications waited on average a total of 25 days for a response to their application.
  • 91 percent of appeals against refusals were successful. People who received a grant of support at appeal had waited on average 35 days for this decision.

Refugee Action and NACCOM also found a particularly worrying trend where applications in which a pregnant woman was the main or joint applicant were significantly delayed.

The report states: "There were 4 cases involving either a pregnant applicant or dependant. All cases were delayed well above the average length of delay, and despite applying with plenty of time before giving birth, not one of the women was able to be housed before the birth of their child. They all gave birth not knowing how they would support their babies or if they would even have a safe place to live."

The report makes a number of recommendations, which it notes "are neither radical nor", but rather consist of calling on the Home Office to follow its own guidance when people make an application for support.

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said: "This research proves that, yet again, the Home Office is failing to follow its own guidance for supporting vulnerable people. Asylum support is supposed to be a safety net. Right now it's full of holes. Vulnerable people are being left with nothing while they wait for decisions. Slow and inconsistent decision-making by the Home Office is causing immense suffering among people that the system is supposed to protect."

Hazel Williams, National Director of NACCOM added: "The Home Office's failure to provide the most basic of safety nets to people who are completely destitute, and to unnecessarily delay destitute pregnant women's access to support, shows a total lack of humanity and is quite frankly dangerous. We're calling on the Government to act urgently to review the current system, and at the very least follow its own published guidelines, to ensure people in urgent need of support are able to access it."