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Home Office's 3p increase for asylum support payments branded ‘cold-hearted’

Asylum Matters says government has blown the chance to put things right for those seeking refugee status in Britain

by Bethany Rielly

THE Home Office’s decision to increase asylum support payments by just 3p a week has been branded “cold-hearted” and an “insult” by refugee rights groups. 

Campaigners have made repeated calls for the measly payments, which leave asylum-seekers to survive on just £5.66 a day, to be increased so that they meet essential living costs. 

But the Home Office announced this week that the £39.60 weekly payments will increase to just £39.63.

Campaign groups reacted to the move today with dismay.

Asylum Matters campaigns manager Emma Birks said: “This review was an opportunity for the Home Office to put this right, and ensure that people seeking refugee status in the UK are safe and supported, during the pandemic and beyond.

“Instead, they've blown it: three pence a week is an insult, not an increase.” 

The Home Office has also introduced an £8 weekly payment for asylum-seekers being put up in hostels who previously received no financial support. 

While this was welcomed by the groups, Refugee Action chief executive Stephen Hale said that the government must rethink the 3p rise. 

“This cold-hearted increase to asylum support is just the latest act by a government that shows little compassion towards people seeking asylum,” he said. 

“Low asylum rates and the effect of Covid-19 on those from BAME backgrounds have created a perfect storm for people seeking asylum, who are already some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

People seeking asylum have particularly struggled during the pandemic as a result of a decline in support from charities. 

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic, groups have been calling for a £20 increase to asylum support payments in line with the increase to universal credit sums. 

The Home Secretary has rejected these calls, claiming that there is no evidence to suggest that asylum-seekers are struggling to meet their basic needs with the current rate. 

But data released today by Asylum Matters shows that of the asylum-seekers surveyed, 84 per cent said that they don’t always have enough money to buy food. 

Respondents of the survey described the experience of living on asylum support as “degrading” and like being in an “open prison” where “you have to justify any move you make.” 

The Home Office has been contacted for comment. 

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