UK government to cut vital support to asylum seeking families
The Law Centre is opposed to Home Office plans to cut support to asylum seeking families, due to come into effect on 10 August.
All asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claim will now receive a flat rate of £36.95 per week per person*, whether they are adults or children.
Single parent families will be hit hardest:
- a single parent with one child will get £73.90 per week, compared to £96.90 now.
- a single parent with two children will receive £110.85, compared to £149.86.
- a couple with two children will receive £147.80. They currently receive £178.44.
The additional payments given to pregnant women and children under three will still be available. Pregnant women will continue to receive an additional £3 a week and very small children will continue to receive an additional £5 a week until the age of one, and £3 a week between the ages of one and three.
The Law Centre has stressed its concerns with the current levels of support - well below what a family on benefits is expected to live on - in a previous briefing which described the negative impact on children’s health, education and long-term prospects. Read it here: Policy Response to Inquiry into Asylum Support for Children
We are concerned that this reduction in support will further compound the issues for families, particularly single-parent families who will lose around a quarter of their income.
The Children’s Society has recently published a useful briefing on this issue. Read it here: Children's Society Asylum Support Briefing
The Refugee Council has called on government to abandon its planned cuts until it has commissioned an independent review into the fairness of current asylum support levels.
Right to work
We are mindful that the majority of asylum seekers do not want to be reliant on the asylum support system at all. They would much prefer to be self sufficient. Unfortunately, the UK government refuses to allow asylum seekers to work. The Law Centre believes that granting permission to work is the right approach here. It would bring innumerable benefits for individual asylum seekers and their children. It would also generate money for the government through workers paying taxes and would reduce expenditure on asylum support. It really is a win win solution.
* To compare, in Northern Ireland, a single adult under 25 entitled to Income Support or Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance receives £57.90 per week, £73.10 per week if over 25.