The Home Office’s decision to slash vital support for families and single parents by almost a third has been condemned by the UK’s refugee sector.
From today, families seeking safety in the UK will have their weekly support for each child cut by £16. This reduction will make it near-impossible for families to meet their essential living needs, according to the British Red Cross, Refugee Council, Children’s Society and Refugee Action.
Norman McKinley, managing director of the British Red Cross, said: “These cruel cuts will plunge families into further poverty, making it agonisingly tough for parents to feed their children, and practically impossible to buy clothes and other essential items.”
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle added: “While MPs are to be awarded a significant pay rise, the Government has simultaneously pulled the rug from underneath vulnerable children and families who have fled unimaginable horrors. It’s utterly abhorrent that the Government has chosen to put people’s health and well-being at risk by making them even poorer.”
Research by Refugee Action found that nearly 40 per cent of asylum seekers already struggle to feed themselves and their children, while 88 per cent said they did not have enough money to buy clothes.
“These cuts will make life even tougher for some of the most vulnerable people in our society” said Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action. “Coupled with recent government proposals to exclude some families from support altogether, it’s clear that the government is using the situation in Calais as cover for increasing poverty and suffering among families seeking safety from persecution.”
Asylum seekers have fled war, torture and other atrocities, and arrive in the UK with almost nothing at all. They are unable to work while their claims are being processed, which often takes years.
These families have no option but to rely on government support which will amount to only half of mainstream state support for single parents in the UK.
Peter Grigg, Director of External Affairs at The Children’s Society, said: “The Government’s decision to cut financial support for families fleeing war, violence and persecution will cause severe hardship to thousands of children in the UK. We know from the families we work with that many are already struggling to provide their children with the basics they need to survive. They are wholly dependent on this support as they are not allowed to work. No child fleeing persecution should be forced into poverty and destitution.”