Groups activity pack, October 2014 Call for asylum support to be increased
People fleeing conflict and persecution left impoverished in UK
There has been no increase in asylum support rates since April 2011. In December 2012 we asked you to urge your MPs to support our call to review the Government’s policy on levels of support paid to asylum seekers, and to increase these levels. Following a legal challenge testing the lawfulness of the amount paid to destitute asylum seekers, in April 2014 the High Court found that the Government’s assessment of the amount needed by asylum seekers to avoid destitution was flawed, and ordered the Home Office to carry out a review. However, in August the Government announced that, following this review, support levels would remain unchanged.
This decision means that many people fleeing conflict and persecution are left without sufficient support to meet their essential living needs while waiting for a Home Office decision on their asylum application.
Asylum seekers are effectively not allowed to work to support themselves, and are often dependent on government support for extended periods of time. The vast majority of people seeking asylum in the UK currently receive just over £5 per day to pay for food, toiletries, clothes, travel and other expenses (housing and fuel bills are paid for separately for those with nowhere to live). While it is possible to survive on this amount for a few days or weeks, it is not possible to do so for the long term without suffering serious impact on health. Income Support is set at what is considered to be the minimum amount people need to meet their basic living needs; the rate of support paid to many asylum seekers is now as low as 50% of Income Support. A cross-party Early Day Motion (EDM 99) calls on the Government to raise asylum support rates to at least 70% of Income Support.