Asylum seekers cannot work and are ineligible for benefits but can apply for Asylum Support (formerly known as National Asylum Support or NASS). On 8 June, the Home Office announced that they would be increasing Asylum Support by just by £1.85 per week, or 26p per day (from £37.75 a week for people who are awaiting a decision on their asylum claim, and £35.39 for those who have been refused asylum in the past). This is at a time when the Home Office, even before lock down, have allowed delays in decisions on asylum claims of more than a year to develop in many cases, leaving people reliant on Asylum Support far longer than would be the case in a properly managed asylum process.
Asylum seekers are one of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in society and asylum support is significantly less than mainstream benefits . Choose Love reports “Before the Covid-19 pandemic, asylum support rates were already significantly less than mainstream benefits; following the uplift, it is now barely 40% of the allowance people over 25 receive on Universal Credit.”
We support the Refugee Council’s open letter and encourage other organisations and individuals to do the same. We call on the Home Secretary to mark Refugee Week by reconsidering this decision urgently and taking the necessary steps to protect asylum seekers and their families.