A number of voluntary organisations have joined forces to express
“deep concern” over new legislation that came into force last week
that will deny asylum seekers automatic access to support
Organisations such as Amnesty International UK, Shelter, and the
Refugee Council, have called this week for the government to work
with them to establish a fair and sustainable system of asylum
In a joint statement, they said:”We cannot – should not – be
expected to provide food and shelter to refugees waiting for the
government to recognise their asylum claims.”
Under section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act
2002, asylum applicants have to prove they have applied for asylum
“as soon as reasonably practicable” after arrival in the UK and
meet the criteria for destitution to receive support from the
National Asylum Support Service (news, page 6, 9 January).
Meanwhile, chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ asylum task force Peter Gilroy has written to immigration
minister Beverley Hughes raising fears about the “operational
implications and costs on local government”.
Gilroy is concerned the system could result in more destitute
asylum seekers and a rise in related crime.
There are also concerns that to gain assistance more asylum seekers
will claim to be children or will enter the country with children
who are not their own. More may also claim to have special needs,
entitling them to support under the National Assistance Act 1948.