Scottish Refugee Council faces funding cuts
Along with other refugee agencies across the UK we have been informed by the UK Border Agency that we face major cuts in funding to our services from 1 April 2011.
We have been informed that the grant to our One Stop Service, which offers advice to asylum seekers and refugees from our headquarters in Glasgow, will be cut by 62%, and that the grant for our orientation and support services for people who have just arrived in the city will be halved.
Additionally, the contract for our Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES), which helps refugees to settle in Scotland, will not be extended beyond its current end date of 30 September 2011. These cuts are echoed across the UK, meaning that in effect there will no longer be any UK government funding to assist new refugees to integrate in the UK.
Crucial services for refugees and asylum seekers
We are currently working out what these cuts in funding could mean for the crucial services we offer refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. We will have a clearer picture of what future services may look like in the coming weeks, and we will keep all of our clients and members informed.
In a joint letter with the other affected refugee agencies in the Asylum Support Partnership we have written to the UK Minister of Immigration, Damien Green MP, to raise our considerable concerns. While we have welcomed his decision to extend our funding by an extra year to March 2013, we remain extremely worried about the impact of the cuts to our services on very vulnerable people in the asylum system.
Our response to the cuts
We, along with other members of the UK Asylum Support Partnership (the Refugee Council, Welsh Refugee Council, North East Refugee Service and Refugee Action) have issued the following statement:
"Savage cuts to the refugee charity sector will force people who have already fled torture, conflict and persecution in their own countries to suffer even further while seeking safety in the UK.
"This is unacceptable. Asylum seekers and refugees depend on the specialist services and expertise of refugee charities to enable them to rebuild their lives.
"Despite urging the government to reduce the unprecedented scale of these cuts, and to give us more time to implement the changes, we are extremely disappointed that cuts at a local and national level to our vital services will nevertheless go ahead as planned.
Effect on voluntary sector
“We understand these are challenging times, but we are gravely concerned cuts this deep will not only devastate the organisations that provide asylum seekers with a lifeline, but will a have a serious and lasting impact on the wider voluntary and public sector.
“Sixty years on from the UN Convention for Refugees, which has saved countless lives, it is imperative our government continues to protect those seeking refuge in the UK today. They must do this by ensuring the organisations that support them can carry on with their life-changing work.”
Work to help refugees across the UK
The Asylum Support partnership is a network of five organisations contracted by the Home Office to provide advice and support services to people who have arrived in the UK seeking asylum. These services include referral to legal representation, referral to health practitioners, and explanations of the UK asylum system and their rights and entitlements when people first arrive.
The Partnership also provides One Stop Services for those people with ongoing asylum claims who require independent advice and support. Expert caseworkers are on hand to provide a range of help which includes applying for asylum support from the UKBA, resolving accommodation problems, assisting those with refugee status to access mainstream services and referral to legal representation.
Please keep an eye on our website for more information.