‘Locked into Poverty’ – new research on asylum support rates and poverty in the UK asylum system

The charity Asylum Matters has published a report – ‘Locked into Poverty – life on asylum support’ – which reveals a picture of poverty, exclusion and hardship for people seeking asylum wholly reliant on Government support payments.

In July and August 2020, Asylum Matters worked with people in the asylum system, and over 30 national and local partners who support them, on a survey of people’s experience of living on asylum support; and submitted the evidence to the Home Office for the review.

The report sets out the findings of the survey among 184 people seeking asylum, and reveals that:

  •   92% of respondents did not have enough money to buy all they need;
  •   84% said they don’t always have enough money to buy food;
  •   Just 2% of families can afford to buy the shoes and clothes they need for themselves and their children;
  •   63% of people stated they could not always afford the medicines they needed;
  •   Only 1 in 4 people stated they could afford essential cleaning products;
  •   95% of people stated they could not afford to travel by public transport;
  •   Only 1 in 10 people could afford data and phone credit they needed.

Meanwhile, recent polling data found that 64% of people in key marginal constituencies thought the amount people currently receive on asylum support was too little.

This new report is published as the Government confirms a paltry increase of just 3p a week in the rate of asylum support following its review of support rates. This deeply concerning decision comes despite ample evidence – including that submitted to the Home Office by Asylum Matters and gathered with local and national partners – that rates are currently too low to allow people seeking asylum to meet their essential living needs. It also follows a recent letter to the Home Secretary from more than 270 organisations calling on her to increase support rates; and clear public support for this.

People seeking asylum are effectively banned from working and have no other means to support themselves. Without an increase in support rates, the vast majority of people seeking asylum will be unable to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their families, and access vital services, during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

For more information on this research, please visit the Asylum Matters website

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