Posted: 10 August 2015

A dark day for families fleeing war and persecution

Today the Government made drastic cuts to support for children fleeing war and persecution, forcing them to live on just £5 a day. Its decision to cut crucial financial support for these families will cause severe hardship to 10,000 children in the UK.

Children pushed further into poverty

Our experience of helping children and families has shown us that some of the children most in need of extra help are those who have come to this country seeking asylum, often arriving in the UK destitute having fled their homes in fear.

But financial support for families seeking asylum in the UK has slowly decreased over recent years. The level of support  was frozen in April 2011, and today the Government has made drastic cuts to this support, with some families being pushed 60% below the poverty line.

Levels of poverty experienced by asylum seeking families were clearly highlighted in a parliamentary inquiry into asylum support that The Children’s Society supported in 2013. The inquiry found that children weren't able to regularly eat nutritious food or dress warmly in the winter, which seriously affected their health, well-being and development. Forty per cent of asylum seekers have said they could not afford food for their families.  This is despite a statutory duty that the Home Office’s has to safeguard and promote children’s welfare. 

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Children treated the same as adults

Children under 16 in asylum seeking families previously received £52.96 per week. The Government has now reduced this support to £36.95 per week - a cut of £16.00 per week or almost 20%.  It is estimated that bringing up a child in Britain costs an additional £89 per week for the first child in a couple and an additional £81 for a second child, excluding housing and childcare, but this new rate of support gives children the same as adults.

Children need resources to support their education, as well as their social and physical development. There are additional costs for families to spend on transport costs for school, clothes and shoes as they grow, and medicines as their immune system strengthens. Our recent report on the costs of school for example, highlighted that the prices of materials for school are often too expensive for families to afford and that school related costs make up a large proportion of family budgets with families spending on average around £800 per year on school costs.

Illogical policy

The Government also believes that creating a ‘hostile environment’ will mean fewer people will want to come to the UK. But evidence suggests that this so-called ‘pull factor’ is not so clear cut. For example, asylum applications have increased since 2011, despite a freeze in support rates over this time period.

These families are being forced into poverty, because they are not allowed to work except in very exceptional circumstances, so they are wholly dependent on the asylum support they receive to support their children.

Help us lobby the Government to change this policy

We will shortly be launching a campaign calling on the Government to reverse this decision and need your support to do this. Sign up to be a part of this campaign.

 

By Lucy Gregg - Policy team
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Help refugee children

Stop plans that will make thousands of children homeless and hungry
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Parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people

Posted: 23 October 2012

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Humane levels of support for asylum-seeking families

Posted: 4 September 2012