Posted: 12 August 2014

Crucial opportunity missed to lift refugee children out of poverty

The government has refused to increase financial support for families fleeing war, violence and persecution. This is despite a high court ruling that found the government calculated rates of support unlawfully. The calculation failed to ensure that a family is able to pay for essential things like washing powder, medication and nappies. But the government has concluded that levels of support should remain unchanged.

Financial support for families seeking asylum in the UK has been frozen since April 2011. Our new research shows that these families have faced a 7.5% cut in real terms  because of rising costs for food, clothing and other basic necessities over the past three years. This means some families need nearly three times as much as they currently receive to be lifted out of poverty.

Families and children who claim asylum are often destitute when they arrive in the UK. They are rarely permitted to work so they are forced to rely on this small amount of government support.

We believe these families deserve better.

The facts about asylum support

Many asylum-seeking families we work with struggle to provide their children with the basics. In some cases, families receive only half what they would be entitled to in the mainstream benefits system..

In 2012, a parliamentary inquiry into asylum support which we supported highlighted the serious implications of the system on children’s health, well-being and development. The inquiry found that children weren't able to regularly eat nutritious food or dress warmly in the winter.

Financial support for 16- and 17-year-olds seeking asylum with their families is considerably lower than for children under 16, even though they are typically in full-time education. This is also despite the fact that they are considered children in the mainstream benefits system as well as under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The government has recognised this in their response to the judgment but failed to act on this.


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We believe rates of asylum support should be aligned to the mainstream benefits system. This is necessary to help ensure that all refugee children have what they need for a decent start in life. We are also calling for 16- and 17-year-olds to receive the same levels of support as other children.

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Our Infographic

By Lucy Gregg - Policy team