The Home Office is planning to introduce new legislation which will allow the withdrawal of support from asylum seekers who refuse to stay in government-funded accommodation.
Around 20,000 asylum seekers currently stay with friends and family whilst they are awaiting a decision on their asylum application, rather than relying on accommodation provided by the Government. At the moment, they can opt for a ‘support only’ package, where they can access support to buy food and other necessities.
Support currently comes in the form of vouchers, at present £36.54 per week for a single adult, to be replaced by a system of cash support in the Autumn, following a Home Office review after vouchers came under fire for stigmatising and causing further hardship to asylum seekers.
The plans to withdraw the ‘support only’ package come under proposals to overhaul of the asylum system, as laid out in the Government’s White Paper, Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain, published in February this year and currently under consultation.
The Refugee Council’s Chief Executive, Nick Hardwick, commented: “There are lots of people who have somewhere to live with family and friends, but need vouchers to survive…Many asylum seekers who are able to provide their own accommodation will switch to having no support and will place even more pressure on impoverished inner city communities”.