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Home Office will not increase asylum support payments

The Home Office has completed its review of asylum support rates following the High Court judgment of 9 April 2014 which ruled that the decision to freeze rates was flawed. The Home office has concluded that the current cash payments under Section 95 are sufficient to meet essential living needs and that the level of support will remain unchanged. The letter to National Asylum Support Forum members explaining their decision is attached.

The Home Office has based its calculation on ONS data of what households on the lowest income in the UK spend on essential items. By their estimation a single adult asylum seeker needs £36.45 to meet their essential living needs – 17 pence less than they are currently provided with. However, in general the calculation does not adequately take account of the vulnerability of asylum seekers compared to the general population and in the specific categories of clothing and communications the Home Office has adjusted the ONS figures down on the basis that they do not consider that asylum seekers would need to spend as much as UK household to meet their essential needs. With reference to expenditure on food, the Home Office has not adequately taken into account the amount UK citizens spend on food outside of their home (e.g. on takeaways).

In relation to clothing, the Government notes that “we consider the arrangements for meeting clothing needs requires a different approach, most particularly because some asylum seekers arrive with inadequate clothing and need to purchase garments immediately.” However, instead of providing them with a level of support to meet this need they are considering an up-front allowance with subsequent reductions on weekly payments to compensate.

Similarly, while the Home Office accepts that “there is no clear rationale” for the rate for 16 and 17 year olds being lower than other children it still leaves the level of payment unchanged, although it states that “we are considering longer term options to align the rate with the one provided to younger children”

None of this takes into account those on Section 4 cashless support ( The Azure Card System) where there is a limited choice in where to shop. Please also see the new report from the British Red Cross.

In light of this very disappointing decision, we need to redouble our efforts to get MPs to sign EDM No.99. which calls for asylum support rates to be at least 70% of Income Support. Please ask your contacts and supporters to take this action which only takes a minute and can be easily accessed here.

You can read Refugee Action’s response to the announcement here.

Attachment Size
HO Letter to NASF 11.08.2014 1.8 MB