‘A cold hearted insult’ is the feeling of charities in respect of the 3p per week increase in cash support for asylum seekers. The support payment for asylum seekers is to be increased from the current weekly rate of £39.60 to £39.63 after a review by the Home Office. Charities have been informed – this equates to approximately £5.66 per day.
The increase of 3p has been met with significant criticism from charities who have been pushing the UK government to increase the asylum support rates in line with the £20. weekly boost to universal credit.
Campaign manager at Asylum Matters, Emma Birks said: “This review was an opportunity for the Home Office to put this right and ensure that people seeking refuge status in the UK are safe and supported, during the pandemic and beyond. Instead they have ‘blown it’ – 3p per week is an insult not an increase”.
UK government rules bar people seeking asylum from working while they wait for a decision on their claim, which can often take several years.
The most up to date immigration figures, released in August, revealed more than 70% of people seeking asylum in the UK would wait more than six months for a decision on their claim.
Chief executive of Refugee Action, Stephen Hale said;”This cold-hearted increase to asylum support is just the latest act by a government that shows little compassion towards people seeking asylum’.
Chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, Sabir Zazai, said: “We’ve been calling for an increase in asylum support rates in line with the £20. in universal credit since the start of the pandemic”.
“We know there is public support for this. The pandemic has taught us that none of us are safe until all of us are safe. The UK government urgently needs to remember this”.
Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, Andy Hewitt said: “People seeking asylum have been forced to make impossible choices between food, cleaning materials and other essential items. This recent announcement fails to take into account the additional needs and pressures placed on individuals and families during the pandemic”.
Asylum support was last increased in June from £37.75 to £39.60. At the time the £1.85 increase was branded as ‘heartless’. The department has said people confined to contingency accommodation such as hotels, would receive £8. per week, having previously received nothing beyond room and board. This extra money was a ‘small step’ in the right direction charities said.
The UKs hardline asylum policy has faced increased scrutiny this year due to the record number of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the Channel.
Despite record arrivals by boat, the number of asylum applications received by the UK government between April and June nearly halved compared with the first three months of the year as the Covid-19 pandemic limited migration flowing across the world.
An ICM poll commissioned by Asylum Matters and Refugee Action showed 74% of votes in some of the most tightly contested seats in the country said that they could not live on £5.66 per day.
The Home Office has been approached for a comment.