Asylum Matters Submission on Cash Allowance to Asylum-Seekers
Asylum Matters put in a submission to the Home Office to inform their review of asylum support levels for 2017. While Asylum Matters has noted that 70% of Income Support is the absolute minimum required to meet the basic needs of people seeking asylum, the submission used the Home Office’s previously established methodology rather than our own assessment of what level of support is required. It warns against support rates being set exclusively by Home Office market research as this does not take into account the challenges faced by asylum-seekers in navigating their new environments, who will take time to learn travel routes, identify cheaper outlets and take advantage of cost savings.
Our submission calls for increases to certain items of expenditure such as food, travel and communications. For clothing, we noted that if a newly arrived asylum seeker owns nothing more than the clothes on their back they would have to save for approximately 26 weeks in order to afford a second set of clothing without sacrificing other weekly essential living needs. We have called on the Home Office to consider how asylum-seekers can be enabled to purchase essential clothing items upfront. As a result, and based on the Home Office’s own methodology, we recommended that the asylum support level for a single adult should increase by £2.00 to £38.95. We noted that this calculation takes no account of the additional expenditure needs of families with children.
Thanks to partners who shared case studies and thoughts on the review, in particular the Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association (BARA), NACCOM, and Refugee Action.
APPG on Refugees – ‘Refugees Welcome?” Report
Last week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees published their report “Refugees Welcome?” which has found that Government policies are creating a costly “two-tier system” of refugee protection leaving many homeless and destitute and seriously damaging their prospects of integration. While those who arrive in the UK through one of the Government-led resettlement programmes receive dedicated support, those who receive refugee status following an asylum claim are often left to rely on charities. They face a number of barriers to integration, such as delays and confusion about important documents from Government departments; a cliff-edge of support following a positive decision on refugee status; patchy English language provision; and a lack of employment and skills support.
The report recommends the incoming Government provides support to all refugees so that they can fulfil their potential and contribute to the UK. It recommends the creation of a National Refugee Integration Strategy, to be overseen by a specially appointed cross-departmental Government Minister for Refugees; more than doubling the so-called move on period from Home Office support, the time given to newly recognised refugees to find new accommodation after they receive a positive decision on their status.; providing extra support for newly recognised refugees and streamlining the process by which new refugees are assigned National Insurance Numbers and identity documents; and extra funding for English language classes among others. You can find the full report here.
British Future Report – Integration: from National Rhetoric to Local Reality
British future has released a report citing the election of new ‘city-region’ mayors as an opportunity to fill the policy vacuum on integration at the top of politics. The election of mayors for six new city-regions across England this week – in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Cambridge & Peterborough and the West of England – could be game-changers for integration given their understanding the specific integration challenges of their region and with wide-ranging powers and budgets to address them. They are calling on all mayoral candidates to publicly support the appointment of a deputy mayor for integration in their region to lead an Office for Citizenship and Integration. Similar offices have been successfully set up in cities like New York, Barcelona, Hamburg and, most recently, in London where Mayor Sadiq Khan has appointed Matthew Ryder as deputy mayor for social integration following a campaign coordinated by British Future and Citizens UK. The report sets out the different integration challenges in each of the six new combined authorities and suggests integration priorities for the new mayor for each region. You can find the report here.
Open Letter from 70+ Organisations Calling on Home Office to Reverse ‘Safe Return Review’ Policy
More than 70 organisations have signed a joint letter addressed to the Home Secretary calling for a reversal of the decision to apply a ‘safe return review’ to all applications for settlement from refugees. The HO made changes to their ‘Refugee Leave Policy’ on 2 March 2017 in order to include a new section “on settlement and the need for a safe return review when considering settlement applications from those granted refugee status”. Although the policy was already announced in the former Home Secretary’s conference speech in 2015 and introduced in February 2016 in the ‘Settlement Protection Guidance’. The open letter notes that “These changes put an end to that hope of stability, and introduce an additional layer of bureaucracy, uncertainty, and evaluation at the hands of a dispassionate state. “ It highlights the impact on successful integration, as well as the administrative burden placed on the Home Office to undertake these reviews. Right to Remain are encouraging supporters to join the conversation on twitter using #RebuildingLives.
Common Purpose – Training Event for Syrian Leaders in the UK
Common Purpose is hosting a training event for Syrian leaders in the UK in order to help participants develop new skills, connections and practical tools and enable them to contribute positively to their diaspora community. The event will take place from 16 – 19 May in London.