Asylum support rates to remain unchanged - Refugee Council
August 12, 2014

Asylum support rates to remain unchanged

The levels of cash support paid to asylum seekers is to remain unchanged, pushing thousands of people further into poverty.

The Home Office has published a review of current asylum support rates following a legal challenge brought by Refugee Action with the support of numerous asylum and refugee organisations, including the Refugee Council.

In its review, the Home Office defends the levels of support currently paid to asylum seekers, just over £5 a day, saying it enables people to meet their essential living needs.

This does not reflect the experience of asylum seekers that we see every day.

We know that current levels of support pushes vulnerable people further into poverty and ill health.

The Home Office states it based its calculations on Office of National Statistics (ONS) data from 2012, chartering the spending habits of the poorest 10% of the British population.

As a result, the review concludes that asylum seekers need to spend just £0.55 a week on healthcare, £1.08 on toiletries and £3.00 for travel costs.

While the Home Office acknowledged that the current clothing allowance for asylum seekers was not sufficient—many people arrive with only the clothes on their back, completely unprepared for British winters—it did nothing to address the shortfall in its review. Instead, it promised to explore other avenues for meeting this need; leaving people to suffer in the meantime.

In some cases, the Home Office has decided that asylum seekers need to spend less than half of what the poorest people in the country currently spend on certain things; like ‘communication’ costs. For asylum seekers, a mobile phone provides a vital lifeline to support networks and their legal advisers.

As asylum seekers are not allowed to work, they are wholly reliant on the Government for support.

Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Lisa Doyle said:

“This is a shocking decision which will only serve to ensure that asylum seekers are trapped in poverty.

“We are extremely alarmed that the Government looked at the evidence and then concluded that it’s happy with people being forced into a situation where they struggle to eat or get the medication they need.”