Charity accuses government of U-turn on asylum welfare

The Refugee Council has accused the government of making a “mockery” of its commitment on the welfare of children in the asylum system by proposing to limit access to benefits for their families.

A consultation paper on welfare support for asylum seekers published yesterday proposes that families should only be allowed housing and benefit payments for three months after they are told to leave the UK.

After that period they would have to live in Border Agency accommodation and would not have access to cash. Instead, they would be provided with a payment card loaded with £35 each week, but it could not be used for transport or at many businesses.


The Refugee Council is furious about the proposal which, it claims, defies the UK Border Agency’s statutory commitment this month to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children caught in the immigration, asylum and customs systems.

“We think it flies in the face of that promise and makes a mockery of it,” said spokesperson Hannah Ward. “The government says it’s prepared to protect these children, but it still detains families and now they’re proposing to make their lives absolutely miserable.

“There are many families [whose asylum claims] are turned down but can’t leave the country for a number of reasons. At the moment they continue to be supported in the same way they’re supported while awaiting a decision on their status, but if these proposals are carried through it will have a hugely detrimental effect on them.”

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