Thursday, 13 June 2024 12:16

Families of refused asylum seekers to be stripped of automatic right to financial support

Tuesday, 04 August 2015

Home Office ministers to adopt more hardline approach to those who have exhausted appeal rights, to demonstrate that UK is not ‘land of milk and honey’.

Plans for thousands of families of refused asylum seekers to be stripped of their automatic right to financial support are to be detailed by Home Office ministers on Tuesday.

Ministers have said they want to take a more hardline approach to failed asylum seekers who have exhausted all of their appeal rights, as part of a drive to demonstrate to those trying to come to Britain that it is not “a land of milk and honey”.

An official consultation paper to be published on Tuesday is expected to detail how thousands of rejected asylum seekers could face having their state support withdrawn once they have exhausted all their appeal rights to stay in the country. Ministers say the current system shouldn’t offer a perverse incentive for illegal migrants to prolong their stay in the UK.

The proposals are expected to amalgamate two different categories of current support for failed asylum seekers and are expected to lead to much more rigorous case-by-case decision-making as to who gets support rather than any automatic entitlement.

The first – known as section 95 support – is paid to just over 10,000 refused asylum seekers and their families who face the threat of destitution meaning they do not have adequate accommodation or money to meet their living expenses for themselves and their families now or within the next 14 days.

Those who qualify are currently given “no-choice” accommodation in a dispersal area outside of London and the south-east, and a weekly cash payment which will be fixed from 10 August at £36.95 per adult or per child. This is a reduction of up to 30% for some families on current rates. For example, a single parent with a child will see their weekly payment reduced from £96.90 to £73.90.

The Home Office says that the consultation paper will “seek to establish how best to remove failed asylum-seeking families from the support system while ensuring there are mechanisms in place to ensure protection for children”.

This carries echoes of the 2004 legislation introduced by the Labour government which is still on the statute book, which not only provided for the withdrawal of support for those families who had failed to leave the country but also threatened to place their children in care if their parents did not leave. The move led then Tory party leader, Michael Howard, to tell Tony Blair that the proposal “offended against all standards of decent behaviour”.

Home Office sources deny that they are considering such a move now. However they do intend to merge section 95 support with a second category of support given to rejected asylum seekers known as section 4.2 support. This provision is to be repealed.

Under it about 4,000 individual asylum seekers who have exhausted all their appeals currently receive very basic help designed to be temporary to ensure they don’t stay in Britain.

They are also given basic no-choice accommodation outside London and the south-east. But they are not given cash. Instead an Azure prepayment card is provided with credit of £35.39 a week which can only be used in specified shops to buy essential food and toiletries.

Government sources say that adequate support will remain in place for those in genuine need of it, such as those who face a genuine obstacle to their departure from the UK. House of Commons library research says that more than 3,600 of the 4,941 individuals on section 4.2 support have been living on it for more than 12 months, implying that they have legitimate barriers to going home. These may include the threat of being returned to a warzone such as Syria or the refusal of their home country to issue them with travel documents.

Ministers say they will also consider changing the law to ensure that the burden of supporting rejected asylum seekers is not simply passed on to local authorities through destitute failed asylum seekers claiming to be homeless.

The Refugee Council has attacked the plan. “This harsh proposal seems to be based on the flawed logic that making families destitute will coerce them into going home. The government has a duty to protect all children in this country and previous governments have recognised it morally reprehensible to take support away from families with children,” said Lisa Doyle, the council’s head of advocacy.

Source: The Guardian

Google+ Google+