The Home Office has responded to calls from the Refugee Council and others to extend asylum support payments for newly-recognised refugees until their first Universal Credit payment arrives. This extension has been introduced because of the impact of Covid-19 and will apply until the end of June, when the Home Office will review the situation.
Previously, newly-recognised refugees had their asylum support payments terminated 28 days after their grant of status. This meant that many refugees had no way to feed themselves or buy essential items until their first Universal Credit payment arrived, which often took several weeks.
The call to extend asylum support payments is one of several issues the Refugee Council is campaigning on during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Lisa Doyle, Executive Director of Advocacy and Engagement at the Refugee Council, said:
“This extension will be a lifeline for refugees who are settling into their new life in the UK. It means that newly-recognised refugees, many of whom face hunger and hardship while waiting for their first Universal Credit payment, will now be able to afford food and basic essentials.
We’re glad that the Home Office has listened to our initial concerns on this issue, and we now urge the Home Secretary to extend this policy beyond the lockdown period. Whilst the pandemic certainly makes life harder for newly-recognised refugees, in ordinary times this group faces serious hardship at the end of the 28 day period, with many becoming homeless as a result. Making this policy permanent would resolve this issue immediately.”