The government stands accused of causing a crisis for local
authorities through its decision to deny support to asylum seekers
from the new EU countries. Despite warnings from councils and
campaigning bodies such as the Refugee Council, the Home Office
insisted that it had given enough notice that on 1 May that support
would be withdrawn. Half of the estimated 2,500 asylum seekers
affected are supported by councils with the remainder accommodated
by the National Asylum Support Service.
At the last minute, the government said that asylum seekers would
not lose support immediately and promised that Nass would consider
cases of asylum seekers who claim their human rights would be
But a test case in the High Court earlier this week, in which an
asylum seeker won the right to appeal against the government’s
decision, could force ministers to give in to demands for a
three-month transitional period.
The recent resignation of Beverley Hughes shows that the issues of
asylum and immigration can carry a heavy political burden – a
lesson Labour may learn to its cost in the June elections.