A damning parliamentary report published today has found that the asylum support system is failing to meet the needs of many children and families, and in a worrying number of cases, putting children in unsafe situations or ones that will be harmful to their heath.
The Refugee Council submitted written evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people, led by former children’s minister Sarah Teather MP, in December 2012. The inquiry panel comprised MPs from all three main parties, as well as a Bishop, a barrister and the Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, who supported the inquiry.
The report, released today, contains evidence from many different organisations and individuals, including experts in the health and well-being of children and asylum seekers living on section 95 support (for people waiting for a decision on their claim) and section 4 support (for those who have been refused).
In response, Shan Nicholas, Interim Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“This report makes shocking, if all too familiar reading. The Refugee Council shares the concern expressed by the panel that the health and well-being of many children is harmed by the asylum support system. We see people every day who are unable to properly provide for their children because of delays, gaps in provision and inadequate levels of support. Many families are living in poverty for long periods of time, some are destitute.
Whilst families are in this country they should be adequately supported; it is shameful that children are suffering because of government action or inaction. This inquiry has heard from an impressive array of experts and we urge the government to act quickly to address these issues”.
The Refugee Council’s written evidence focused on two main issues: the situation of many lone parents, forced to share accommodation with unrelated families and the gaps and delays in provision of support to pregnant women and mothers of newborn babies, some of whom are unable to provide for the most basic needs of their families. Many of these examples were drawn from recently conducted research into the dispersal of pregnant women. This research, conducted with Maternity Action, will be published in February.