Organisations working with refugees across the UK hit out at government cuts to asylum welfare being introduced today (5 October). The Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils and North of England Refugee Service (NERS), all members of the Asylum Support Partnership, branded the cuts “appalling” and are calling on the government instead to allow asylum seekers to work.
The government will today implement significant cuts to the amount of money it currently gives to asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claim. At the moment, rates are set at 70% of income support. From today, destitute asylum seekers who ask for support and who are single and over 25, will receive even less, with rates falling from £42.16 to £35.13 per week. This is a little over half of what the government says a person needs to live on.
In addition, lone parents with one child will not receive an increase in their income in line with the rise in the consumer price index, which effectively leaves them over £2 per week worse off.
Asylum seekers already struggle to survive on the money they are given each week, and are not allowed to work, so are restricted to the amount set by the government. Refugee communities are already among the poorest in Britain, and there are fears that further impoverishing this group will lead to isolation, poor health and have a wider impact on local communities.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council and Chair of the Asylum Support Partnership said:
“We are appalled that the government has moved to cut support to asylum seekers, who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Of course, these are hard times for everybody and no-one should receive preferential treatment, but we must remember that many of these people have experienced torture, persecution, war and human rights abuses and most live in already deeply impoverished circumstances.
“Surely a more practical solution would be to allow those that can to work, and contribute to the growth of our economy, rather than further penalising the poorest and most vulnerable?”