Delays in the asylum system leaving many refugees homeless
A report by the Refugee Council has discovered examples of refugees who were forced to sleep rough and beg for money whilst waiting for their documents to arrive.
The charity is calling on the government to review its system so that delays are eliminated in issuing documentation.
In the report, titled ’28 Days Later: the experience of new refugees in the UK’, the short period of time between the granting of refugee status and the end of asylum support is analysed. Using information from the 469 advice sessions Refugee Council held in 2013 for individuals it worked with. Under current rules, asylum seekers lose accommodation and funding support 28 days after they are granted refugee status, reports Inside Housing.
The report found that in some instances, refugees were waiting for months to be issued the correct documentation to enable them to claim mainstream benefits, find employment and support themselves. It also found that Jobcentre Plus advisors had a lack of awareness of the entitlements of refugees, with many refugees being asked to provide documentation that is irrelevant and having the Habitual Residence Test applied to their cases, even though refugees are exempt from this.
Dr Lisa Doyle, advocacy manager at Refugee Council and author of the report, said: “Refugees have fled horrifying experiences in their own countries and have lost everything. When they arrive in the UK, many are met by a complex, hostile asylum system which can leave people living in limbo for years, waiting to have a final decision on their fate. Being finally recognised as a refugee should be a moment to be celebrated. It is unacceptable that the reverse is true and that it is a confusing, chaotic period where people can find themselves on the street, begging for money. It seems perverse that when someone is accepted as in need of protection the state puts them at further risk through bureaucratic failures that can make them homeless and destitute. The Home Office must urgently review the current system to ensure that vulnerable refugees are not left unsupported.”
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