Next London Mayor urged to address dysfunctional “move-on” system as refugee homelessness increases by 239% in two years - Refugee Council
April 11, 2024

Next London Mayor urged to address dysfunctional “move-on” system as refugee homelessness increases by 239% in two years

A new report from the Refugee Council lays bare the systemic failures in the process refugees face as they seek a place to live following a decision to grant them refugee protection, describing it as “dysfunctional by design and discriminatory in delivery.”  

The report, Keys to the City 2024: ending refugee homelessness in London, highlights how upon receiving refugee status, people are given just 28 days to find secure housing before facing eviction – a timeframe deemed “insufficient” and putting refugees at high risk of homelessness and destitution. It also highlights the barriers newly recognised refugees face while trying to find a home in the private rental sector, a significant contributing factor to homelessness. 

The damning findings show that in the two years to September 2023, there was a 239% increase in refugees requiring homelessness support from local authorities after being evicted from asylum accommodation. Newly recognised refugees often have no savings as they are unable to work while in the asylum system and live on low support levels prior to a decision. 

The report also analyses data from the Refugee Council’s own Private Rented Scheme in London for 2022-2023 and paints a bleak picture, with 97% of refugees approaching the service being homeless over that period. In 2023, two in five of them were street homeless, an increase of 75% from the previous year. 

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:  

“The process refugees go through when granted status is setting them up to fail from the very start. A mere 28 days to get on their feet and find a private tenancy with no income and no savings is completely unrealistic. This dysfunctional system is causing an entirely avoidable crisis of homelessness and destitution. 

“People who have fled unimaginable horrors deserve to be given a fair chance to properly rebuild their lives with dignity when granted refugee status, instead of being left to become homeless.  

“The next Mayor of London can and should act to prevent refugee homelessness and destitution by establishing a fund to cover tenancy deposits for new refugees, as well as providing better tenancy support. At a national level, the Government must extend the short move-on period to at least 56 days. We know what the solutions to the refugee homelessness crisis are – it’s high time political leaders started implementing them.” 

The report sets out a set of practical recommendations for the next Mayor of London and for the Government to solve the crisis of homelessness and destitution among newly recognised refugees. These include:  

  • For the next Mayor 
  1. Creating a refugee tenancy deposit fund; 
  2. Providing tenancy training and support for new refugees. 
  • For the Government 
  1. Extending the move-on period to at least 56 days, in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act and Universal Credit application timelines; 
  2. Listing the Home Office as a body with a legal duty to refer people at risk of homelessness to local authorities; 
  3. Introducing a 9-month grace period on the benefit cap for new refugees; 
  4. Issuing all documentation to refugees on the same day. 


Read the report: Keys to the City 2024: ending refugee homelessness in London