The 28-day move-on period in the UK is leaving refugees on the brink of extreme poverty. Evidence from people who use Red Cross services shows that newly recognised refugees are struggling after successfully applying for asylum. Many can’t move from asylum support to mainstream benefits and employment within the 28-day period afforded to them by the Home Office.
Our new report, Still an ordeal: The move-on period for new refugees, examines the experiences of people who use British Red Cross refugee services. Their stories help explain why many new refugees fall into poverty so soon after getting a positive decision on their asylum application.
In 2014, we published a report that showed the move-on period was an ordeal for new refugees. Four years on, despite some positive policy changes in the intervening years, it is still an ordeal. Further changes are now needed, including extending the move-on period to at least 56 days.
- Twenty-eight days is not enough time for newly recognised refugees to move onto mainstream benefits or find somewhere new to live. All 26 refugees who took part in our research faced problems and were left without their most basic needs for up to 72 days.
- Universal Credit has made it almost inevitable that refugees will be left without support. An automatic 35-day wait to receive the first Universal Credit payment is completely incompatible with the 28 days afforded to newly recognised refugees to access Universal Credit.
- The safeguards within the Universal Credit system to ensure claimants are not left without support are often not accessed by refugees. They are often unaware that they are eligible or cannot receive them because they don’t have a bank account.
The British Red Cross supports around 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers each year who are extremely poor and facing destitution. One in five have refugee status.
We give them help such as food vouchers, as they’re unable to meet their basic living needs.
What needs to change?
Since 2014, the government has made a number of changes to help refugees after they get their asylum decision. But our research shows that more needs to be done.
All parties involved need to work better together to make sure that fewer people are left without support following the ‘move-on’ period. This includes the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, JobCentre Plus, refugees and the charities working with refugees during this period.
We’ll be working with the government to make this happen – and continue to help those who have the right to a life here.
Our calls to decision makers:
- Extend the move-on period to at least 56 days, to avoid a break in support.
- Provide more support to newly recognised refugees to help them navigate the move-on period and apply for Universal Credit.
- Ensure that newly recognised refugees are able to open bank accounts more quickly and easily.