Drastic cuts to asylum support will plunge children deeper into poverty

By July 16, 2015 October 26th, 2016 Press release

The Home Office’s decision to slash vital support for families and single parents by almost a third will have a devastating impact on children and families seeking safety in the UK.

Today the government laid regulations that will cut the level of financial support for families with children seeking asylum by £16 per child per week.

From 10 August, when the regulations come into effect, all destitute asylum seekers will be forced to live on £36.95 a week. Unable to work while their claims are being processed, these families have no option but to rely on government support which will amount to only half of mainstream state support for single parents in the UK.

Stephen Hale, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said:

“These cruel cuts will plunge families into further poverty. They will make it agonisingly tough for parents to feed their children, and practically impossible to buy clothes and other essential items.

“It is deeply concerning that some of the most vulnerable children in our society are being targeted by the Home Office in this way.

“We urge the Government to reverse this decision and commission an urgent independent review into the levels of support asylum seekers need to survive.”

Research by Refugee Action found that nearly 40 per cent of asylum seekers already struggle to feed themselves and their children, while 88 per cent said they did not have enough money to buy clothes.

Last year Refugee Action won a High Court challenge over the Home Office on the level of asylum support. A High Court judge ruled that Home Secretary Theresa May was ‘irrational’ in her decision making and ‘misunderstood information’ when setting the cripplingly low level of financial support paid to people seeking asylum in UK. Despite this landmark ruling the Home Office are now making further cuts.

Vianney, a father-of-three from Sierra Leone seeking asylum with his family, said:

“It is very stressful when you’ve got a family and you are used to taking care of and providing for them and no longer can. It’s been horrible. If we want to eat, our money is just for food. If we need to go to any appointment we are forced to walk. We can’t buy toys, we can’t do activities – we find it difficult to even cover the children’s food.

“If the asylum process is going to be long, the government needs to look at the amount of money they give, or allow at least one of the parents to work, especially those with families. When you are working not only are you in a position to support your children but the level of dependency will be less.”

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Take action

Refugee Action’s destitution fund supports asylum seeking families in need. Please donate £16 today, the same amount cut from a child’s weekly support, and help protect vulnerable families in crisis.