‘Forgotten refugees’ in England face hunger and homelessness - Refugee Council
May 20, 2016

‘Forgotten refugees’ in England face hunger and homelessness

The British Government is leaving the country’s so-called ‘forgotten refugees’ hungry and homeless, shocking new research has revealed.

In a new report published today [PDF], the Refugee Council exposes a chaotic system which could leave thousands of newly recognised refugees virtually abandoned by the Government which has committed to protecting them.

The Refugee Council’s research found:

  • When their asylum claim is granted, refugees are given just four weeks to secure an income and somewhere to live before the Government evicts them from their asylum accommodation
  • Newly granted refugees can apply for a one-off loan to help with integration, but Government admits it has ‘no target’ for processing these loans—though it ‘aspires’ to do so in six weeks—2 weeks longer than refugees have before eviction.
  • This results in many refugees becoming homeless and destitute. 81 of 100 of the new refugees surveyed by the Refugee Council were homeless or about to be when they came to us
  • We estimate that these problems could have affected 9,768 refugees last year alone.
  • Newly recognised refugees are being forced to rely on food banks, charities or friends for access to food, money and accommodation.

Read the full report: England’s forgotten refugees: out of the fire and into the frying pan [PDF].

The experiences of these refugees are in stark contrast to those of the 20,000 Syrian refugees due to be resettled across the UK by 2020. Resettled refugees benefit from having accommodation secured in advance of their arrival, and receive specialist support to help them to access services, employment and to integrate into British life.

For refugees who are granted asylum, there is no UK Government funded integration service. The national programme that used to operate to support these refugees through their transition was abolished by the Coalition Government in 2011.

The Refugee Council is calling for the UK Government to ensure that refugees who have been granted asylum are not forgotten, and are given much more help to find accommodation including through faster loan processing and easier access to rent deposit schemes.

Report co-author and Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said:

“For people who have escaped war, torture and rape; being granted asylum in Britain should be a moment of immense relief; a time to finally stop running and instead to focus on rebuilding their shattered lives.

“Shockingly, quite the opposite is true. These forgotten refugees are being all but abandoned by the Government which has just committed to protecting them. Quite simply, refugees are being left without refuge.

“It’s time for the Government to acknowledge this hidden crisis and make sure no one who’s granted protection in Britain is left to with nowhere to safe to sleep.”

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