Call to increase Asylum Support rates

hands holding money c. Jenny Wicks
Helping refugees to understand money

Ever tried living on £5 a day? It's not easy. But £5 a day is roughly equivalent to the current rate of asylum support in the UK.

Support for some asylum seekers now amounts to just 50% of income support levels. Many people who have fled torture, human rights abuses and other horrendous experiences face destitution in the UK as they struggle to pay for food, clothing, transport and essential toiletries on just over £5 a day. Most asylum seekers spend an average of 18 months on this support and are almost never allowed to work.

Frozen rates

Asylum support rates have not increased since April 2011. But following a sustained campaign by Still Human Still Here and a legal challenge from Refugee Action, the Home Office has been forced to reconsider the way it calculates asylum support rates. The Home Secretary has until August 9 to make a decision on whether or not to raise asylum support levels.

Around 60 MPs have pledged their commitment to raising asylum support rates by signing Early Day Motion 99. If enough MPs sign this motion, destitution within the asylum system will be debated by Parliament and levels of support for asylum seekers may be raised to 70% of income support levels, rising annually with inflation.

We need your help to achieve this

Together with Still Human Still Here, Scottish Refugee Council is calling on all Scottish MPs to ratify this motion. Under international human rights legislation, the UK has a duty to ensure that minimal support needs of asylum seekers are met.

From our years of experience with people seeking sanctuary in Scotland, we know that the complex asylum support system is a constant cause of anxiety to men, women and children. Our recent research with Strathclyde University on asylum seekers’ experiences of maternity care in Glasgow found that one of the most significant barriers to accessing appropriate care was the asylum support system itself.

We are calling on all Scottish MPs to sign Early Day Motion 99. We will continue to campaign on this issue until people seeking asylum in the UK will no longer be forced to live a life of poverty.

What you can do

Join Scottish Refugee Council in our anti-destitution campaign by asking your MP to sign Early Day Motion 99. The Home Secretary needs to increase asylum support rates in order to comply with international human rights legislation.

What to do:

1.    Copy and paste the letter printed below.

2.    Follow this link: https://www.writetothem.com/

3.    Enter your postcode

 4.    Click on your named MP

 5.    Paste the letter that will go to your MP

  6.    Click send

The copy:

Request to sign Early Day Motion 99 on the High Court Judgment on Asylum Support

The right to seek asylum is universal, enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). A critical part of the UK asylum system is to provide those seeking international protection here with accommodation and support if they are destitute. Current provisions stem from the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (the IAA), which capped financial support at no more than 70% of Income Support.

As a result of the IAA and asylum support rates being frozen since April 2011, some asylum seekers, including single adults over 25 and lone parents, now receive around just 50% of Income Support. The majority of asylum seekers have to pay for necessities such as food, clothing, toiletries and transport, on just over £5 a day.

In April 2014, the High Court handed down its judgment in Refugee Action v the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The case was described by the lead Judge as considering "what was sufficient to keep about 20,000 people above subsistence level destitution, a significant proportion of whom are vulnerable and have suffered traumatic experiences".

The High Court found the Home Secretary’s assessment of the amount needed by asylum seekers to avoid destitution was flawed. Furthermore, the Court concluded the Home Secretary failed in her assessment of what are to be considered as essential living needs. The Home Secretary has until 9th August 2014 to comply with the ruling and take a new decision on whether to increase asylum support rates.

An Early Day Motion on Asylum Support Rates was lodged in the UK Parliament on 16th June 2014. This EDM registers concern that asylum support rates have not increased since April 2011 and calls on the UK Government to restore asylum support rates to at least 70 per cent of income support - the equivalent of £7.17 a day for most adult asylum seekers - and to increase this in line with inflation annually.

The complex and inflexible asylum support system is a constant cause of anxiety to men, women and children already struggling to rebuild their lives on the margins of our society.

We hope that you will sign this EDM. Doing so will demonstrate your commitment to preventing unnecessary poverty amongst those not permitted to work; to respect their dignity and uphold their living standards; as well as to ensure their practicable access to the universal right to seek asylum.

Yours sincerely,

(Enter your name)