The current state of the dispersal programme

02 Jan 2001

Refugee Council release

Commenting on the current state of the dispersal programme, Nick Hardwick, Chief Executive of the Refugee council said:

"To ensure the dispersal programme works, asylum seekers need to feel confident that their basic needs will be met and that they are not at personal risk of racial harassment. Many asylum seekers are giving up their right to accommodation and squeezing into already cramped conditions with relatives so they can reach proper legal support, pursue their claims with the Home office or simply feel safe.

"It is hardly surprising asylum seekers are rejecting dispersal in their droves if they are being sent to areas like sink estates where they are too frightened to even venture outside. The added stigma of being forced to use vouchers makes one of society’s most vulnerable groups even more exposed to potential hostility.

"The Government could do much to help the situation by reminding the wider public about the sorts of terrifying circumstances people are fleeing. When they did this last year with Kosovo, the people of the UK warmly welcomed those forced to give up everything and leave their home in search of sanctuary.

"The Government also needs to provide better support to local authorities and recognise costs beyond accommodation, guaranteeing full reimbursement. Such measures would go a long way towards making dispersal work.

"It is also important to remember that some asylum seekers will always want to stay in London to be close to members of their own communities who may have fled similar traumatic experiences. Let us never forget just how much refugees have enriched British society; time will prove the benefit of welcoming them and enabling them to use their skills to maximum effect."

ENDS

Read about the Institute of Race Relations report on dispersal.