Families who are seeking safety in Britain face being forced further into poverty following new changes to asylum support rates.
The Home Office has announced that all destitute asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claim will now receive the same weekly allowance of £36.95 per person.
This will mean a significant cut to the levels of support that families with children aged under 16 will receive, with single parent families being hit particularly hard. A lone parent with two children will see their asylum support payments cut by 26% in less than two weeks time.
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.
When making the changes, Home Office officials claimed that ‘sufficient funds continue to be available to ensure parents to care for their children safely and effectively’.
Asylum seekers often arrive in the UK having experienced significant trauma, with only the clothes on their back and the hope they have reached safety. As asylum seekers are not permitted to work, once they have proved they can’t support themselves, they have no choice but to rely on the Government for help.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “Government Ministers to be proud of Britain’s tradition of protecting refugees but today is not a proud day.
“Life is already far from comfortable for families in the asylum system. We know that current support rates can cause hunger, ill health and worry for some of the most vulnerable people in our society so it’s particularly distasteful that the Government has actively chosen to push families further into poverty.
“These changes will create yet more unnecessary suffering for people who are already in desperate situations.”