In August 2023, the Home Office made an “operational” change to when asylum support is withdrawn from those granted refugee status. Since August, refugees have been notified when they receive a positive decision that their asylum support and accommodation will end in 28 days. Previously the Home Office took a flexible approach and accommodated newly recognised refugees until they received their biometric residence permit (BRP) – a document used to confirm a person’s rights to public services and benefits.
Since this change, members have seen a significant increase to the number of people becoming homeless after being evicted from Home Office asylum accommodation. Thanks to intelligence provided by members, we have engaged with officials from the Home Office to raise our ongoing concerns and share stories about the significant impact the change is having. We have called on the Home Office to immediately:
- reverse the 28 day support cessation process
- extend support to refugees until they receive their BRP and can move into sustainable accommodation
This call has been particularly heightened as we have entered the cold winter months, and people leaving asylum accommodation face the prospect of rough sleeping in dangerous weather conditions.
Thanks to pressure from the homelessness and migrant sector, at the start of this month, the Home Office announced that refugee evictions from asylum accommodation would be temporarily paused over periods of SWEP (for a maximum of 3 days) and between 22nd December and 3rd January.
The Department for Work and Pensions have also made changes to the way refugees can evidence their entitlement to apply and receive benefits. From now on, refugees do not need a BRP to apply for Universal credit, rather, they can do so with their grant letter and Asylum Registration Card (ARC).
We know the severe impact that these changes are having on the individuals that are being evicted from asylum accommodation, and on your services as you are dealing with increased demand for a population who often have limited resources available. We welcome the changes announced by DWP that should improve the speed with which people are able to access their welfare entitlements, and will continue to work with the Local Government Association to ensure that local authorities are providing the support needed to enable this.
We will also continue to highlight the challenges caused by this policy change to DLUHC and Home Office. The insight and stories that you have shared with us so far helped create the pressure that led to the eviction pauses over SWEP and during the Christmas period. There is still far more to be done and we will continue to work alongside you, and our partners in the migrant sector, to improve the support for people leaving asylum accommodation.