7 Aug 2014

Over 10,000 children seeking safety from war, violence and persecution with their families are being pushed into poverty by alarmingly low-levels of support, new analysis from The Children’s Society reveals.

Financial support for families seeking asylum in the UK has been frozen since April 2011. As a result, asylum seekers have faced a 7.5% cut in real terms as a result of rising costs for food, clothing, and other basic necessities over the past three years, The Children’s Society’s research shows.

Some families receiving asylum support are now living on little more than a third of the amount they would need just to escape poverty.

In April, the high court ruled that the Home Secretary acted unlawfully when deciding levels of support. It stated that the government has until 9 August to re-assess rates so they meet asylum-seeking families’ essential living needs. 

Matthew Reed, The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, said: 'The UK is pushing children seeking safety from violence and persecution into poverty. Instead of giving them and their families the help they need, they are being forced to live on shockingly low-levels of support.

'Many are unable even to afford the most basic necessities for their children. The government has a chance to change this and make sure that all refugee children have what they need for a decent start in life. It is critical that the government does not miss this opportunity.'

Financial support for families seeking protection in the UK can be as little as 50% less than that given to those on mainstream benefits, and most are not allowed to work.

Alarmingly, financial support for 16 and 17-year-olds seeking asylum with their families is particularly low at £13.16 a week less than for children under-16. It is far below what is needed for them to develop, thrive and participate fully in education.

The government needs to make sure that 16 and 17-year-olds are treated as children within the asylum support system in the same way as all other children under 18. 

The Children’s Society is calling on the government to increase asylum support rates to at least 70% of mainstream benefits, and increase them annually in line with inflation.

Ends

Media enquiries:

For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422, 07775 812 357 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors:

  • For more information on asylum support see our new briefing ‘From Persecution to Destitution - The truth behind asylum support’: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/asylum_support_briefing_stats_july_2014_finaldraft.pdf
  • Summary of Mr Justice Popplewell in Refugee Action v Secretary of State for the Home Department, handed down 9 April 2014: http://www.refugee-action.org.uk
  • For further background see the 2012 Parliamentary Inquiry into Asylum Support for Children and Young People: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-lobbying/parliamentary-work/parliamentary-inquiry-asylum-support-children-an-1
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the UK has signed, states that the best interest of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them. This applies to all children within the state’s jurisdiction, regardless of immigration status.
  • 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.

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