In fresh research launched by the British Red Cross today, the charity argues that extending the period of government-funded support for newly recognised refugees in Britain could lead to net financial benefits of £4 million to £7 million annually.
Extending what is commonly known as the ‘move-on’ period – the period of time during after which refugees who have just been granted refugee status are able to access the support they received while claiming asylum – would benefit more than 5,000 people a year, the charity says.
Amongst other areas the research, which was conducted with the London School of Economics, focuses on two important areas of savings:
- Homelessness: Rough sleeping comes at an enormous human, economic and social cost and affects many newly granted refugees – in fact, it’s estimated that between 5% and 7% of the overall group of rough sleepers are newly granted refugees. The estimated benefits generated by extending the move-on period to 56 days in terms of tackling rough sleeping are £2,312,000 to £3,240,00.
- Temporary accommodation: Evidence suggests that around 50% of newly granted refugee households are in “priority need” for Local Authority homelessness relief duties. When people seeking asylum leave asylum support they are often placed in Local Authority temporary accommodation, an extremely costly form of housing compared with the cost of asylum support accommodation. Allowing these households to continue living in asylum support accommodation while the Local Authority completes its duties, (in line with the 56 days prescribed in the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017), could result in less use of temporary accommodation by Local Authorities. This would provide estimated savings to Local Authorities of £2,169,000.
Responding to the research, Judith Dennis, Policy Manager at the Refugee Council, said: “We welcome today’s research which provides further evidence that 28 days of support for newly recognised refugees is simply inadequate and that the ‘move-on’ period must be extended. Day in, day out we see the terrifying impact of the current approach on people granted protection in the UK: people being deprived of even the basics and ending up at crisis point, living on streets, having to beg for money, not knowing where their next meal is coming from and at real risk of severe health problems. We urge the Government to see sense and take urgent action now – their inaction means that, tragically, the lives of those they have granted protection to remain at stake.”