The Government has launched a consultation on new plans set to leave vulnerable families living on the streets.
The consultation comes following an announcement earlier this week that the Government planned to strip refused asylum seeking families of the little support they are currently able to access.
Under the new plans, families could see their support terminated within 28 days and they will have no way of appealing. It is likely that those who face proven obstacles to leaving the country will continue to be supported if they can meet strict eligibility criteria.
Families who fail to meet these criteria will have no access to state support, and local authorities will not be responsible for their care.
This deplorable plan could leave families homeless, penniless and vulnerable to exploitation as they struggle to survive.
Ten years ago, the Government piloted similar measures which were never introduced after they were found to be wholly ineffective when just one family left the country as a result. 30% of families in the pilot had outstanding asylum claims or other legal representations unresolved and therefore should not have been included.
The majority of families were left destitute and extremely distressed by the process. The most well known case of a family who suffered as a result of the pilot was the Sukulas from Bolton, who had sought asylum from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Speaking in the House of Commons at the time, 19 year old Flores Sukula described how her family had been affected.
She said: “For twelve weeks we have had all benefits taken away … we have to survive on the charity of others. It’s inhuman and degrading… My mum is so depressed she’s had to go on medication, she’s crying all the time… My brother, Destin, is seven now. We’ve had reports from his school of him being distant and having funny turns. He’s so stressed out. He’s just not the same person anymore. My sister Benedicte is nine months. But since August, we cannot give her nappies and baby milk.”
Refugee Council Policy Manager Judith Dennis said: “The Government is so keen to appear tough it’s now viciously targeting vulnerable families and appears determined to take away people’s ability to feed, clothe and house their children, without any independent oversight.
“There is no evidence that introducing new, cruel policies which could leave children sleeping on the streets will convince families to return to their countries of origin where they believe their lives are at risk.”