Many asylum seekers face destitution at some point in the asylum process. Sometimes a refused asylum seeker cannot return to their home country and have no papers to travel anywhere else. However, they are not allowed to work nor do they have access to public funds. Such people can be left destitute for years but they would rather face this and feel safe than return to the place from which they fled. Others are left destitute between refusal and appeal. Ironically, many are left destitute at the point they get leave to remain while they wait for residents permits, NI number etc. so that they can apply for work / benefits or even access a homeless hostel. This page provides links to organisations, reports, campaigns and other resources on the themes of destitution. Please help us keep this page up to date by sending information and resources to firstname.lastname@example.org
Template Resolution on Destitution for City Councils
This can be adapted to get your council to support the Still Human Still Here campaign by joining those local authorities petitioning the Home Secretary to relieve the suffering of people seeking sanctuary and especially those people who have yet to be granted leave to remain in the UK. Contact us for further support with this. See also the Asylum Activism Network resource “How to win the argument – Destitution motions” attached below. In addition we recommend that the Joint Commitment to Action be used to inform the follow up to securing the resolution on Destitution
Council Motions Against Destitution
Over the last two years, Councils up and down the country have shown their opposition to government policies that force those seeking safety into poverty and homelessness by passing a Motion Against Destitution.
These motions give support for four clear advocacy goals for ending asylum destitution, which are listed on the Still Human Still Here website.
- Still Human Still Here – a coalition of 60+ organisations that are campaigning to end the destitution of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK.
- NACCOM the UK’s national No Accommodation Network
- Refugee Action Report: Slipping through the cracks – How Britain’s asylum support system fails the most vulnerable. The report – based on analysis of more than 300 cases –
shows some of the most vulnerable people seeking protection are being wrongly denied assistance or
are experiencing long delays to get the support they are entitled to.
Of the 315 cases supported by Refugee Action or Asylum Support Housing Advice (ASHA) reviewed:
50% of applications for emergency support (section 98) were wrongly refused, with 92% of
these decisions overturned when challenged;
People waited an average of 2 months to receive long term financial and accommodation
support and 3 months to receive just financial support;
People were left in initial accommodation for an average of 37 days, almost double the Home
Office’s maximum target of 19 days. This left many in squalid, unsuitable conditions.
In light of these findings, Refugee Action is calling on the Government to:
Urgently recommit to applying their existing policy and guidance consistently in all cases,
including making decisions on support as quickly as possible.
Put into practice a transparent approach to decision-making on asylum support, within three
months. This should include releasing detailed statistics on support decisions and ensuring it
is publicly monitoring meaningful indicators of success.
Give those seeking sanctuary the right to work, bringing the UK into line with most European
countries. This would mean people seeking asylum would no longer be forced to rely solely
on state support to survive
- British Red Cross Report – ‘Can’t Stay. Can’t Go. Refused Asylum-seekers who cannot be returned’The report exposes how refused asylum-seekers are trapped in a life of destitution in the UK and risk falling into crisis. Despite their efforts to comply with Home Office policy they cannot leave the UK for a number of reasons such as a lack of documents, nationality disputes or because there is no viable route to their country of origin. The report recommends that such refused asylum-seekers should not be made destitute and in particular, pregnant women and families should be kept on section 95 support, regardless of their status. The Home Office should provide clear, realistic and practical guidelines for section 95A on what is considered as appropriate evidence to prove they have taken reasonable steps to obtain a travel document. The Home Office is also called on to share the burden of proof of taking reasonable steps to obtain a travel document (assisting in calls to embassies and funding travel to embassies) and offering discretionary leave to remain for those who are unable to be re-documented after 12 months despite compliance with the system.
- NICRAS Report – Living in Limbo: The Life of Refused Asylum Seekers in Northern Ireland The Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) May 2017 report looks at the experiences of refused asylum-seekers in Northern Ireland. Issues raised by those interviewed included homelessness, barriers to accessing support and a deteriorating quality of life and health.
- Refugee Council England’s_Forgotten_Refugees – Out of the fire and into the frying pan. May 2016. The research explores the experience of newly recognised refugees within their first year of being granted asylum by the UK Government.
- ASAP’s publication The Waiting Game- delays in providing asylum support after appeals (February 2016) shows an average delay of 18 days including for vulnerable families and those with medical needs. They argue that the current system is unfair and unlawful and provide recommendations to the Home Office. Support should be provided immediately after an appeal and any delay should be reasonable.
- How to improve support and services for destitute migrants. The report from JRF explains the nature and urgency of the problems affecting destitute migrants, what solutions might work and how obstacles to helping them can be tackled. It also gives advice on overcoming legal obstacles to giving help to destitute migrants.
- “Destitute and asylum seeking women in the West Midlands”. Immigration issues and charity support related to housing and subsidy by Hope Projects, University of Birmingham IRIS (Institute into Research into Superdiversity) 2015
- NACCOM Resources page includes annual reports, 2015 survey, 2013 Report on Tackling homelessness and Destitution for those with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) and Models of Accommodation .
- A Decade of Destitution: Time to Make a Change 2013 The British Red Cross and the Boaz Trust report on Destitution in Manchester after surveying 150 destitute asylum seekers.
- The University of Sunderland 2013 report on the experiences of destitute asylum seekers in the North East “Between Destitution and a Hard Place: Finding Strength to survive refusal from the asylum system“.
- “I don’t feel human”. Experiences of Destitution amongst young refugees and migrants. The Children’s Society
- Good Practice Guide on Statelessness Determination– The European Network on Statelessness(ENS)
- The World’s Stateless December 2014, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion
- Poverty among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK: An evidence and policy review. Institute for Research into Super Diversity and University of Birmingham 2014
- Destitution in the UK 2016 by Joseph Rowntree Foundation which measures destitution in the UK. It reveals that 1.25 million people experienced destitution at some point during 2015 – including more than 300,000 children – meaning that they were unable to afford the basic essentials they need to eat, keep clean and stay warm and dry.
- Information pages on the rights of destitute asylum seekers and migrants on Housing Rights website
- West Yorkshire Destitution Asylum network
- Online tool to help advise destitute families: launched by the NRPF Network and COMPAS, this is designed to help local authority practitioners and voluntary sector advisers work out support options for destitute families with no recourse to public funds.
- Guide to making homelessness applications to Local Authorities for refugees from The Refugee Council
- Migration Destitution Toolkit – Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution
- Hosting Toolkit
- Briefing for NACCOM projects on right to rent
- Supporting clients with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) – Guidance for homelessness services. This free resource by Homeless Link provides information for front line services working with single adult destitute migrants who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF).
- The Survivors A to Z Guide to the Poverty Barrier – from Freedom from Torture featuring the voices of the torture survivors they support.