Four out of 10 asylum seekers cannot afford to feed their children, warns charity

More than 10,000 asylum seeking children are being pushed into poverty by asylum support freeze, says The Children's Society

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More than 10,000 children who fled to the UK to escape war, violence and persecution are victims of shockingly low-levels of UK asylum support and are being pushed into poverty as a result.

Those are the findings from an analysis published by The Children’s Society whose chief executive Matthew Reed said: “The UK is pushing children seeking safety from violence and persecution into poverty. Instead of giving them and their families the help they need, they are being forced to live on shockingly low-levels of support.”

The charity’s analysis found that “in some cases, a family needs nearly three times as much as they currently receive on asylum support to be lifted out of poverty”.

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Asylum seekers are only permitted to work in exceptional circumstances which means they are entirely dependent on the support given to them by the government which 40% of asylum seekers say means they cannot afford to feed themselves or their children.

Families seeking asylum in the UK have had their support frozen since April 2011, leading to a 7.5% cut in real terms as the cost of basic necessities – such as food and clothing – has risen.

Asylum support is granted to people and families staying in the UK whilst they wait to be granted a right to remain.

Families receiving asylum support can receive as much as 50% less in financial support as those on mainstream benefits.

“Many are unable to even afford the most basic necessities for their children,” said Reed. “The government has a chance to change this and make sure that all refugee children have what they need for a decent start in life.”

In April this year the high court ruled that the home secretary Theresa May acted unlawfully when deciding levels of asylum support. The government now has until 9 August to reassess the payments so they meet asylum-seeking families’ living needs.

“It is critical that the government does not miss this opportunity,” said Reed.

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