‘Locked into poverty’ – new report shows reality of life on asylum support

Asylum Matters today publishes a new report which reveals a picture of poverty, exclusion and hardship for people seeking asylum reliant on Government support payments – as ministers choose to increase rates by just 3p a week.

Asylum support levels force individuals and families to live in poverty for months, or even years at a time, as they wait for a decision on their asylum claim. This can have a devastating impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of both adults and children.

We worked with more than 30 of our partner organisations across England, Wales and Scotland this summer to hear from people in the asylum system on their experiences of living on asylum support.

Our report sets out the findings of our survey among 184 people seeking asylum, and reveals that:

  • 92% of respondents did not have enough money to buy all they need;
  • 84% said they don’t always have enough money to buy food;
  • Just 2% of families can afford to buy the shoes and clothes they need for themselves and their children;
  • 63% of people stated they could not always afford the medicines they needed;
  • Only 1 in 4 people stated they could afford essential cleaning products;
  • 95% of people stated they could not afford to travel by public transport;
  • Only 1 in 10 people could afford data and phone credit they needed.

Meanwhile, recent polling data found that 64% of people in key marginal constituencies thought the amount people currently receive on asylum support was too little.

This new report is published as the Government confirms a paltry increase of just 3p a week in the rate of asylum support following its review of support rates. This deeply concerning decision comes despite ample evidence – including that submitted to the Home Office by Asylum Matters and gathered with our local and national partners – that rates are currently too low to allow people seeking asylum to meet their essential living needs. It also follows a recent letter to the Home Secretary from more than 270 organisations calling on her to increase support rates; and clear public support for this.

People seeking asylum are effectively banned from working and have no other means to support themselves. We believe that without an increase in support rates, the vast majority of people seeking asylum will be unable to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their families, and access vital services, during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.

If you want to know more about this report or our work on asylum support, please contact Emma Birks at [email protected]



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