Asylum support rates judged unlawful

money in hands  c. Jenny Wicks
Set at around £5 per day, asylum support is too low for asylum seekers to meet their basic living needs.

Court rules rates of financial support do not meet asylum seekers essential living costs and orders Home Office to re-examine current support rates

In a landmark judgement, the High Court today (9 April) ruled that the Home Office's decision to freeze asylum support rates is 'flawed' and ordered the Secretary of State to retake the decision as to the level at which asylum support should be set.

Our colleagues at Refugee Action in England raised the legal challenge against the Home Secretary on the grounds that she had acted irrationally over whether asylum support rates meet essential living needs and secure a dignified standard of living.

Set at around £5 per day, asylum support is shockingly low. For a single asylum seeker this equates to 51% of basic income support. In fact, it’s too low for asylum seekers to meet their basic living needs. They can’t afford to properly feed their families. They can’t buy warm clothes in winter. They can’t afford toiletries, bus tickets or childcare. Single parents, families with young children and those with health issues find it even harder.

Flawed decision

In the High Court today Mr Justice Popplewell stated that the Secretary of State’s decision to freeze the rates of support for asylum seekers was ‘flawed’ and that: “She [Secretary of State for the Home Department] failed to take reasonable steps to gather sufficient information to enable her to make a rational judgment in setting the asylum support rates for 2013/2014.”

The Secretary of State was ordered to retake the decision as to the level at which asylum support should be set, in accordance with the guidance contained in the judgement.

Change for thousands

Today's ruling could change the lives of thousands of people who have fled torture, terror and grave human rights abuses and are struggling to live in poverty in the UK.

Head of policy at Scottish Refugee Council, Gary Christie, said: "We wholeheartedly welcome this judgement and commend Refugee Action for all their work in securing this ruling.

Justice Popplewell's landmark decision could improve the lives of many people struggling to survive and facing destitution right here in Scotland.

We want to see immediate action from the Home Office to ensure this ruling is followed, rates are increased  to ensure that people seeking safety in the UK are able to rebuild their lives in dignity.”

Read the briefing from Refugee Action and the Migrant law Centre.