Benefit rules for lone asylum seeking young people relaxed

Rules governing benefits for lone asylum seeking young people are to be relaxed to prevent them facing financial hardship.

Under the current system lone children are given discretionary leave to remain in Britain and are supported by their local authority until they are 18.

But once reaching 18 they must apply to the Home Office to extend their leave and need written proof of receipt of their application in order to receive financial help.

But Home Office delays mean that some are waiting up to six months to receive an acknowledgment, which means they cannot claim benefits.

Work and pensions minister James Plaskitt said benefits staff would be issued with guidance that the original letter giving a young person discretionary leave to remain in the UK and/or a solicitor’s letter could be used instead.

The decision follows pressure from the children’s commissioner Al Aynsley-Green, who said applicants were facing hardship, homelessness and disruptions to their education because they were waiting months for an acknowledgement.

“No young person should face financial hardship during their transition into adulthood because of bureaucracy,” he said.

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