Asylum seekers overturn government block on housing and benefits

Six asylum seekers have won their legal challenge against new
government rules which denied them the right to receive housing and
benefits, writes Derren Hayes.

The group of six brought the case following the introduction
last month of the new Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act,
which banned people who make late asylum claims from receiving
government help.

At the high court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Collins ruled that
the law as it was being applied in the six cases breached the
European Convention on Human Rights. He said “insufficient
consideration” had been given to the issue, and the decisions made
in their cases “must be quashed and reconsidered, if that has not
already happened”.

The outcome could see many other similar claims being lodged
– around 150 asylum seekers have already begun legal action
on similar grounds.

The government is to appeal against the ruling and home
secretary David Blunkett said he still considered the law to apply.
The appeal is to be heard on 3 March.

Asylum seeker campaign groups welcomed the judgement, and said
immigration authorities were interpreting the act too strictly.
“Denial of support will leave many asylum seekers without a roof
over their head and without any money to feed themselves,” said
Barry Stoyle, chief executive for the Refugee Legal Centre.

Under section 55 of the act only asylum seekers making
applications at ports as soon as “reasonably practicable” are
eligible for support and accommodation from the National Asylum and
Support Service.

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