The Home Office have announced the asylum support allowance will increase by 3p from £39.60 to £39.63, equivalent to £5.66 per day. The Refugee Council, together with several refugee rights NGOs, strongly criticised this move as inadequate and insulting.
People seeking asylum are not permitted to work, so they are forced to rely on these asylum support payments to meet their basic needs. By contrast, the Government has given recipients of Universal Credit a £20 increase in weekly payments, in recognition of increasing costs caused by the pandemic.
The Home Office also announced an £8 weekly payment for people seeking asylum in temporary hotel accommodation, who previously had no access to cash, and therefore had no means to pay for basic essentials such as bus fares and phone data.
Lisa Doyle, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said:
“What can you buy with 3p? This increase is an affront to people left to languish in the asylum system for months, sometimes years, on end. The Government knows that the pandemic has hit the most economically disadvantaged people hardest, which is why they increased the Universal Credit allowance by £20 per week. All we ask is that people seeking asylum receive the same financial uplift, to enable them to afford food, cleaning products and other basic essentials.
We welcome the £8 weekly payment for people seeking asylum who are living in temporary hotel accommodation, backdated to the beginning of the pandemic. However, it’s frankly scandalous that they’ve had to wait seven months for this crucial cash allowance to pay for basic daily essentials such as hand sanitiser and phone data. We know this delay has compounded the misery, isolation and hardship of people forced to live in temporary accommodation while they await a decision on their asylum claim.”