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UK asylum system forces thousands of children to live in severe poverty
New analysis released today by The Children’s Society reveals asylum support levels for children and families fall alarmingly below mainstream benefit levels, leaving around 10,000 children in severe poverty for long periods of time.
According to The Children’s Society, support for children seeking protection in the UK can be as little as half of that received through the mainstream benefits system (see footnote). In some cases children and families would need nearly three times more than they currently receive in order to be pulled out of poverty.
Many families are not even able to pay for the basics, including clothing, powdered milk and nappies for their babies.
Rates of support for asylum seekers mean that children are living in severe poverty on less than 40% of average incomes.
Difficult situations for children and families relying on asylum support
Parents are forced to rely on asylum support to meet their needs because they are generally not permitted to work because of immigration restrictions.
Asylum-seeking children and families are further disadvantaged by lower rates of support for 16- and 17-year-olds than that provided for younger children.
This is despite the fact that they are considered children under domestic and international law as well as under the mainstream benefits system.
There is also no standard additional cash support for families affected by disabilities, as provided by mainstream benefits, which is vital for coping with the additional costs of living with a disability.
'Unacceptably low support'
The Children's Society's Policy Director Enver Solomon said:
'The support levels for asylum seeking families are unacceptably low, forcing thousands of very vulnerable children to face severe hardship every day, denying them even the basics needed to survive and thrive.
'Children of asylum seekers are no less deserving and have the same needs as all children in the UK, yet by giving them less financial help they are being treated as though they are inferior.
'As the government reviews levels of asylum support, it is vital it takes into account children’s needs and its commitment to tackling child poverty for all children by ensuring asylum support does not put children’s health and well-being at risk.'
For more information, please contact Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society’s media team on 0207 841 4423, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For out of hours enquiries please call 07810 796508.
Notes to editors
- 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.
- See our full briefing on asylum support: Highlighting the gap between asylum support and mainstream benefits.
- For further information on child destitution see our report I don’t feel human: Experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants.
For example, a lone parent with a 16-year-old child could receive £83.74 per week under Section 95 support. This is 57% of income support rates from 2011/12, and they would need three times the amount to be pulled out of poverty. (Return to text.)