Refugee Action has launched a campaign report Slipping Through the Cracks: how Britain’s asylum system fails the most vulnerable.
Analysing 315 cases of people applying for section 98 and section 95 support over the past year, the charity concludes that appalling Home Office failures are leaving people homeless and hungry.
The study of these files from services that support people seeking asylum in Manchester and London shows:
- Individuals and families at risk of homelessness and with no means of supporting themselves are waiting an average of nearly two months (58 days) for housing and the small amount of money (just £5.28 a day) they are entitled to for essential living costs, including food, clothing and transport. This is known as Section 95 support.
- Some face far longer delays – one man from Eritrea was left without this basic allowance for almost 10 months (308 days) and was granted refugee status before he was granted asylum support. During this time he and his wife struggled to feed their young child and baby, and could not afford to heat their home during the winter months.
- More than half of people in crisis, who are in desperate need of a roof over their head and a proper meal, had their application for emergency, or Section 98, support refused. But the vast majority (92%) of these applications were approved shortly afterwards when people challenged the decision, causing unnecessary stress and uncertainty for people in precarious situations.
- Individuals and families being left for more than a month in unsuitable, temporary accommodation, with children unable to attend school and vulnerable people left without legal advice or access to a GP.
Refugee Action is calling 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.
- Put into practice a transparent approach to decision-making on asylum support, within three months. This should include releasing detailed statistics on support decisions and ensuring it is publicly monitoring meaningful indicators of success.
- Give those seeking sanctuary the right to work, bringing the UK into line with most European countries. This would mean people seeking asylum would no longer be forced to rely solely on state support to survive.