Ellen Broome, The Children’s Society’s policy director, said:
“The Home Affairs Select Committee’s decision to examine the asylum process is very welcome. It provides an important opportunity to further examine asylum support for the thousands of children who depend on it and help improve their lives.
“Despite the government’s responsibility to protect all children, regardless of where they come from, levels of asylum support are alarmingly low. As we see from the families seeking safety that we work with, this is forcing them into severe poverty, putting babies’ and children’s lives at risk.
“This inquiry can help end the card-based, cashless system of support that effectively leaves families stranded - unable even to take a bus to the doctor's or take their children to school. And make sure that asylum support for all of these children is in line with mainstream benefits. Every child deserves a decent start in life and their best interests must be at the heart of decisions made about their lives.”
To help end forced destitution see The Children’s Society campaign to abolish the cashless, card-based system of Section 4 support.
For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07775 812 357, firstname.lastname@example.org. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors:
• Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 requires the Home Secretary to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the asylum and immigration system.
• Asylum support is set out in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Destitute families with dependent children receive support under Section 95 of the Act until they are granted refugee status and can access employment or mainstream support or if they are refused asylum, until they leave the UK. But for single adults and couples without children this support is stopped if their claim is refused. If they cannot return home and they have a child, they may be eligible for lower, non-cash support under Section 4 of the Act under strict restrictions.
• Although exact data is not available, it is estimated that around 10,000 children are supported under asylum support. Around 800 of these are supported under Section 4 for refused asylum-seeking adults.
• The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.