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Asylum Matters – Home office review of support rates

Still Human Still Here which became Ordinary People, Extraordinary lives is now called Asylum Matters. This update came from Andrea Vukovic

Home Office Review of Cash Allowance Paid to Asylum-Seekers for 2016

The Home Office has released a report on the ‘Review of Cash Allowance paid to Asylum-Seekers: 2016’ which concluded that the cash allowance for those supported under section 95 will remain the same at £36.95 per week.  The assessment is based on the Home Office’s methodology developed in 2014 in light of guidance given by the High Court and includes a mixture of their own market research and data collected by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) about expenditure by the lowest 10% income group among the UK population. The report found that £36.58 is actually the amount that is considered sufficient to meet essential needs and therefore the current level of weekly cash allowance of £36.95 is more than sufficient and will remain at that level.

It was noted that for certain items, the Home Office’s own analysis of meeting needs was lower than the levels suggested by ONS expenditure and therefore they will “consider whether it is appropriate to continue to use the ONS data for these items in future years, taking into account the views of partner organisations.” Unlike previous years, adjustments were made to allow for inflation in line with the general Consumer Price Index (CPI) for certain items (food and non-alcoholic drinks, toiletries, healthcare and household cleaning items) but not for the other three essential items (clothing, travel and communications) as those amounts were based on market research undertaken in late 2015 and early 2016. They will consider to whether “it would be more appropriate to use the detailed CPI index for each category of essential item” in the future, and noted that this approach would have resulted in a lower overall figure this year.

Finally, the report includes a section on the needs of children and notes that the only area where costs are likely to be higher for children than for adults is for clothing and only by a small amount and this is offset by the equal or lower costs for children associated with other items. The Home Office concludes that they are satisfied that the current payment system Is sufficient to cover living needs of a household, irrespective of the number of children in the household. You can find the report here.

Home Office Guidance on Applications for Additional Support

The Home Office has also published guidance on Applications for Additional support (under section 96(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999), as well as an application form (ASF2) for those who wish to make such applications. 

It is noted that the “broad approach is that asylum-seekers, or their dependents, will typically have a need for further support to cover their essential living needs where they have:

  • A need that is essential and different from the needs of asylum-seekers in general; or,
  • An essential need which is common to all asylum-seekers, but which is more costly to meet because of their particular circumstances.”

The guidance also notes that a need, even if it is accepted as essential, will not need to be met by the Home Office if it can be covered elsewhere, for example by other public bodies such as local authorities. It also requires full documentary evidence to be provided with the application to show both the details of the need and why it is exceptional because of particular circumstances.

Home Office Call for Evidence to Inform the 2017 Review of Asylum Support Levels

The Home Office has also started the 2017 review of the level of the asylum support cash allowance, which began with the publication by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) of the most recent family spending data on 16 February 2017.  They are inviting evidence and submissions to inform this review.  If you would like to contribute, please send submissions by close on 28 April 2017 to [email protected]  

Submissions to EHRiC Inquiry on Destitution, Asylum and Insecure Immigration Status in Scotland

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRiC) in Scotland has undertaken an inquiry looking at issues around ‘Destitution, Asylum and Insecure Immigration Status in Scotland,’ particularly how the Scottish Government and Scottish public services are planning for, and responding to, these issues. In addition to written evidence, the Committee heard oral evidence from a number of witnesses last week including British Red Cross (Scotland), Scottish Refugee Council, Scottish Women’s Aid and Scottish Faith Action on Refugees, whose written submissions to the Inquiry can be found here. The Committee’s findings and recommendations will be published in April.

Guardian report: Pregnant Women without Legal Status Avoid Seeking NHS Antenatal Care

The Guardian has reported that hundreds of pregnant women without legal status are avoiding seeking NHS antenatal care because of growing fears they will be reported to the Home Office or faced with high medical bills. The Guardian reports that letters from one NHS trust were sent to women with complex asylum claims warning they will have their antenatal care cancelled if they fail to bring credit cards to pay fees of more than £5,000 for maternity care. These letters contravene NHS guidelines, which state that maternity care should never be denied. The article can be found here.

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