UK: New report documents "insulting and degrading" financial support for asylum seekers


A new report by the charity Asylum Matters documents the effects of the government support provided to asylum seekers. The weekly rate of support for an individual - recently raised by a paltry three pence to £39.63, or £5.66 a day - is provided on a pre-paid card. The result is that people must "live in poverty for months, or even years at a time, as they wait for a decision on their asylum claim." The Home Office recently claimed that the three pence raise will "ensure essential needs are provided for."

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‘Locked into poverty’ – new report shows reality of life on asylum support (Asylum Matters, link):

"Our report sets out the findings of our survey among 184 people seeking asylum, and reveals that:

    • 92% of respondents did not have enough money to buy all they need;
    • 84% said they don’t always have enough money to buy food;
    • Just 2% of families can afford to buy the shoes and clothes they need for themselves and their children;
    • 63% of people stated they could not always afford the medicines they needed;
    • Only 1 in 4 people stated they could afford essential cleaning products;
    • 95% of people stated they could not afford to travel by public transport;
    • Only 1 in 10 people could afford data and phone credit they needed.

Meanwhile, recent polling data found that 64% of people in key marginal constituencies thought the amount people currently receive on asylum support was too little.

This new report is published as the Government confirms a paltry increase of just 3p a week in the rate of asylum support following its review of support rates. This deeply concerning decision comes despite ample evidence – including that submitted to the Home Office by Asylum Matters and gathered with our local and national partners – that rates are currently too low to allow people seeking asylum to meet their essential living needs. It also follows a recent letter to the Home Secretary from more than 270 organisations calling on her to increase support rates; and clear public support for this.

People seeking asylum are effectively banned from working and have no other means to support themselves. We believe that without an increase in support rates, the vast majority of people seeking asylum will be unable to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their families, and access vital services, during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond."

And see: Asylum-seekers' 3p-a-week increase is an insult, say campaigners (The Guardian, link):

"A Home Office spokesperson said: “We acted quickly and decisively earlier this year to look after asylum seekers’ wellbeing during the pandemic by increasing the level of asylum support to ensure essential needs are provided for.""

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