Government breaks vital commitment to supporting thousands of vulnerable refugees - Refugee Council
news  |  October 4, 2019

Government breaks vital commitment to supporting thousands of vulnerable refugees

Thousands of refugees living in the UK and in urgent need of support will lose access to vital services following the Government’s withdrawal of millions of pounds of pre-allocated funding in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

This move is a disgraceful U-turn on the part of the Government, threatening to seriously undermine the futures of vulnerable refugees – people the Government has committed to supporting though a range of vital services including housing, access to healthcare and school places for children.

Set up in 2014 by the European Union, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) is a pot of billions of pounds to be used by EU member states to support, in part, the effective integration of non-EU nationals, including newly recognised refugees.

The Refugee Council was awarded an AMIF contract worth £2.6million to support 3,500 refugees. Since October 2018 the charity has received part of the funds to support refugees at crisis point – those at high risk of homelessness and destitution, and in desperate need of support with isolation and mental ill health. The loss of the remaining funds will leave 1,900 refugees deprived of this vital support.

While the Government has committed, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to guaranteeing other streams of EU funding that has been secured directly from the EU, it has refused to do the same for AMIF funds which were issued to charities via central Government. The Refugee Council, along with a host of other charities supporting refugees in the UK, received its AMIF funds via the Home Office, and has been told that, in the event of a no deal Brexit, their funding will be cut immediately. The charities say this is a clear back track, citing assurances given by the UK government when it first awarded the grants that funding would be secure post Brexit.

To the Refugee Council’s knowledge, AMIF funds are the only EU funds that the Government has refused to secure in the event of a no-deal Brexit, meaning that refugees, a particularly vulnerable group of people, have been singled out and overlooked.

The charities – which includes Refugee Action, the Scottish Refugee Council, Barnet Refugee Service, RETAS and Refugee Women’s Association – estimate that the joint value of the AMIF funds are in the tens of millions of pounds and support an estimated 30,000 refugees in the UK.

They have written to the Editor of the Times about this issue (please note that it is behind a paywall) – see here.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: “The support we provide to refugees through this funding is for those who are in the gravest danger– those who are very likely to end up on the streets without our support, are destitute and extremely isolated. The idea that such a vital service is going to be cut simply beggars belief. The Government seems to have lost sight of that fact that they are dealing with the lives of real people.

“Such a disgraceful U-turn flies in the face of the Government’s commitment to supporting refugee integration as set out in its integration strategy. To date, AMIF funding has enabled the government to fulfil these promises and we have been immensely proud to see the difference it’s made to so many people’s lives. Pulling the rug from underneath this investment makes no sense. We urge Ministers to overturn this decision immediately so that we can continue to help refugees build their lives and start to contribute to UK society.”

You can help us with this urgent matter. Call on the Government to reinstate vital support for thousands of refugees in the UK by signing this letter today. Click here.