UK Government proposes unfair and dangerous cuts to lifeline support

back of women in veil  c. Jenny Wicks

 With politicians and civil servants off for the summer break, the UK Government took the opportunity to launch a consultation on removing financial support for people whose claim for asylum in the UK has been refused.

The consultation period ends just two days after the UK Parliament returns from recess, giving opposition politicians little time to mobilise against this unfair and potentially very harmful proposition.

The Government proposes to change Section 4(2) of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act, to end the already limited support given to people seeking asylum in the UK whose application is turned down and who are not seen to “make an effort to leave the UK”.

The UK Government also seeks to withdraw support to families, already recently slashed to appalling levels, when it turns down their claims for protection. These proposals could lead to families being split and children taken into care.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy and Communications at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This attack on those whose claims are turned down, including many families already on the breadline, is unfair and dangerous.

“It is unfair because thousands of Home Office decisions on people's asylum claims later turn out to be incorrect. We know that around 30% of appeals against refusals are successful, a huge figure that affects many individuals and families.

"It is also unfair because many people are simply unable to return to their home country. They may be expected to return to a war zone or to a country whose government refuses to accept them.

"The proposal is dangerous as it will force people into abject destitution, leaving them exposed to a increased risk of violence and exploitation on the streets.

“Calling people ‘failed asylum seekers’ is a deliberate ploy to imply that people have done something wrong. People with genuine reasons for fleeing their homes frequently have their applications for asylum turned down, as the high rate of decisions overturned on appeal illustrates. The word ‘illegal’ is also used in the title of the consultation. No human is illegal, only their actions, and claiming asylum in the UK is legal and well within the law.

"Moreover, an asylum application that has been refused does not mean the person did not make it in good faith. This is deeply worrying language for the UK government which should be better than this.

“We call on everyone to take part in the consultation and let the UK Government know that their proposed changes will not be accepted by decent people.

“People fleeing cruelty and danger to find safety for themselves and their families shouldn’t find themselves facing further cruelty and danger here in the UK. The UK Government tried to remove support from families in 2005. There was rightful public outcry then and even by the government's own evaluation the move was a disaster."

Scottish Refugee Council has also repeatedly called for the UK Government to allow people awaiting decisions on their asylum claims to be able to work to support themselves and to create a new future for themselves after often traumatic pasts.

See the full consultation document here and you can email your responses to the UK Government here Deadline for submissions is 9 September. A further Immigration Bill is expected when Parliament returns around the same time.