Iain Duncan Smith attacks asylum destitution policies

Withdrawing support from asylum seekers whose claims have failed is counterproductive and leaves thousands at risk of destitution, a think-tank has warned.

The Centre for Social Justice, headed by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, called for the policy to be scrapped as part of a wider overhaul of the asylum system.

In an expert report published yesterday, the think-tank cited figures showing that just one in five failed asylum seekers returned voluntarily to their home countries when support was withdrawn, and most went underground.

Forced or voluntary returns

The CSJ recommended returning failed asylum seekers home on a forced or voluntary basis within six months and faster decision-making on cases.

The think-tank branded the current system as “cumbersome” and proposed the creation of a new independent body made up of three full-time magistrates to adjudicate on applications. Charities and voluntary groups would also be given state contracts to support asylum seekers while their cases were heard.

The CJS also slammed the government’s plans to expand detention centres for asylum seekers as “an unnecessary waste of money”.

It suggested that detention should be replaced by alternatives such as bail bonds and voice recognition reporting.

‘Nasty’ policy

Duncan Smith said the government’s policy of making asylum seekers destitute was “nasty” and had not worked.

“This system gives refused asylum seekers good reason to abscond and little reason to engage with officialdom,” he added.

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at the Children’s Society, said the report highlighted “one of the most pressing problems” for children seeking asylum with their parents.

“We have documented cases of mothers prostituting themselves to survive and children growing up without food, a safe place to live or access to much needed healthcare. The use of destitution as a tool to force children out of the country is both inhumane and ineffective, and must stop,” she added.

Related articles

Shelter: Lift asylum work ban to end destitution

Lifting UNCRC reservation offers hope for asylum seekers

Joseph Rowntree Trust: Asylum destitution has tripled in Leeds

Independent Asylum Commission demands end to destitution


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