Nearly all new refugees in the UK experience a period of destitution after they have been granted status, as asylum support ends 28 days on from a positive decision, whilst the first payment of Universal Credit is not made for 35 days. This “in-built” period where no support is available to new refugees is leaving them homeless, destitute and desperate.
The Government must act to extend the move-on period for newly recognised refugees. A parliamentary debate has been scheduled by Thangam Debbonaire MP to take place on Wednesday 4th March 2020.
Jessie Seal, NACCOM’s Campaigns and Policy Coordinator, explains why this is such a vital issue;
We urge MPs to consider our key recommendations, outlined below:
Finding safe, secure accommodation after leaving asylum accommodation is a daunting task, made worse by the lack of advice and support and the short window of time to arrange future options. Becoming homeless is a hugely traumatic event that can be prevented.
“After I become homeless [on December 28th] … my friend who I need to stay with, [everyday] he is outside and he comes back late, about 3 in the morning. So I go sleep in the garden and I wait for him. [Sofa surfing was] not only a small space, but no cover, no pillow, we don’t have it. My friend in his bed and I am on the floor and I put my bag under my head as the pillow. The period should be you will not finalise from the Home Office, until you get new house. Or, once you get status you should go the hostel of the council or something and after that we can take time [to see] where you will go or how you can get a house or flat. These are very critical issues.”
~ Akhil (not his real name), from Syria.
Our key recommendations:
- The move-on period for people granted status should be extended from 28 days to at least 56 days to reduce risks of homelessness amongst refugees and bring Home Office policy in line with changes introduced under the Homelessness Reduction Act (2018)
- The move-on period should be extended to ensure that no one is left destitute as a result of the 35-day wait for Universal Credit first payment
- Asylum accommodation providers should be listed as a ‘public body with a duty to refer’ people who are refugees to Local Housing Authorities under Homelessness Reduction Act regulations. This will ensure that people receive the support they need to prevent homelessness.
How can you help?
➡️ NACCOM members; If you are a member of NACCOM, email or write to your MP using the below template, urging them to attend the parliamentary debate, and send them our briefing.LETTER/EMAIL TEMPLATE FOR NACCOM MEMBERS TO SEND TO MPs
➡️ NACCOM supporters; If you are a NACCOM supporter, email or write to your MP using the below template, urging them to attend the parliamentary debate, and send them our briefing.LETTER/EMAIL TEMPLATE FOR NACCOM SUPPORTERS TO SEND TO MPs
➡️ Get in touch with a NACCOM member project in your area to see how you can help.
Key statistics that support an extension to the move-on period
- A recent report from the British Red Cross conservatively estimates that incidences of rough sleeping among newly granted refugees is between 5-7% of the overall group. The report also estimates that extending the move-on period would save between £2,312,00 to £3,240,000 in terms of tackling rough sleeping alone.
- Extending the move-on period would benefit over 5,000 people a year and benefit the public purse by between £4 million and £7 million annually, according to research by the British Red Cross.
- At least 40% of the people who were refugees  accommodated by the NACCOM network in 2018-19 were without access to any kind of benefits or employment when they first registered, whilst for a further 14% it not known whether they were receiving any benefits.
- NACCOM’s Mind the Gap – One Year On report published in June 2019 showed that people become homeless after they receive their refugee status, with people who are refugees accounting for 23% of those accommodated in three Night Shelters in the NACCOM network across England.
What support do people who are new refugees currently receive?
People who are granted leave to remain (LTR) in the UK are given 28 days to vacate their Home Office-funded asylum accommodation. This is known as the ‘move-on’ period, and in this short time frame people are expected to learn how to navigate mainstream public services, apply for Universal Credit and find a new home.
In this time, people are expected to either apply for social housing (although single adults are rarely found to be ‘priority need’ and there is a shortage of social housing) or find private rental accommodation. In reality they may have less than 28 days to arrange this, for instance if there is a delay with their notification of status.
There are significant obstacles to accessing essential support such as Universal Credit and Integration Loans, often caused by delays with documentation from the Home Office, problems setting up bank accounts (in many cases due to not having proof of address) and incorrect advice from the Job Centre and other services.
People who have been financially supported by the Home Office on £37.70 per week during their asylum claim, and who have not been permitted to work, will have been unable to save the funds needed to access private rented housing in advance. Having been placed in no choice accommodation during the asylum process, they will also often have limited networks to rely on after move on.
NACCOM is committed to bringing an end to destitution amongst asylum seekers, refugees and migrants with no recourse to public funds living in the UK. A key way to help achieve this is to increase the move-on period from 28 days to at least 56 days for newly recognised refugees.
 The NACCOM network accommodated 853 people who were refugees in 2018-19.