Family faces separation as new asylum law bites

A mother of six was facing the prospect of being forcibly
separated from her children this week after losing her appeal
against new Home Office laws on removing financial support for
families whose applications for asylum have failed.

Ngiedi Lusukumu, who claims she had to flee the Democratic Republic
of Congo after being badly beaten by soldiers, last week lost her
appeal against the National Asylum Support Service’s decision
to stop paying her rent and providing benefits.

Her case is believed to be the first of its kind to come before the
courts since the Home Office introduced tough new legislation
allowing the removal of support for families who make no attempt to
leave Britain voluntarily after their asylum applications are

Under Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, while
Lusukumu could be legally left destitute, her local authority may
be legally obliged to take her children into care. The law has been
condemned by the British Association of Social Workers as
“brutal” and “inhumane”.

More than 100 other families living in Leeds, Bradford, north
London and Greater Manchester, where the Home Office is piloting
the scheme, are understood to be facing a similar fate.

Lusukumu and her family, who have been living in council
accommodation in Bolton, are now considering whether to apply for a
judicial review.

Although in a statement Bolton Council insisted they were doing all
they could to try and keep the family together, a spokesperson
admitted that the final decision rested with the Home Office.

Kathy Evans, policy director at the Children’s Society, a
member of the Refugee Children’s Consortium, criticised the
Home Office for putting local authorities in a “terrible

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