In August, the Home Office changed the point at which people granted refugee status were given notice to leave asylum accommodation from 28 days after receiving the documentation needed to demonstrate their status, to 28 days after being notified of a positive decision. This was irrespective of whether refugees had received the documentation needed to evidence their status.
The Home Office confirmed in late December that has ended this practice and returned to the previous operating practice of issuing notice of support withdrawal 28 days from the date refugees receive their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
As this still falls short of the 56 days granted elsewhere under the statutory homelessness prevention duty, we will continue to call on government to extend the support period to ensure people leaving the asylum system have enough time to find suitable move on accommodation.
We know members saw a significant increase in the number of people presenting for support following the August change. We would like to thank you for sharing what you were seeing on the ground. This information helped us to press the Home Office about the significant impact of evictions on services. We would like to know if you are seeing this change materialise on the ground. If you become aware of any instances that counter the change, please let us know.
Responding to the decision, Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, the membership body for frontline homelessness services, said:
“The Home Office’s decision to change when the notice period for people granted refugee status to leave asylum accommodation is issued was deeply damaging, causing rough sleeping to skyrocket and exposing new refugees to the trauma of homelessness. At the same time, it placed huge strain on homelessness services, many of which are already at breaking point. We are therefore relieved to see a reversal of this practice after months of chaos and hardship.
“This policy was a clear example of government departments working in silos, not appreciating the consequences of their decisions, and undermining efforts happening across government. The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping by the end of this parliament and yet for months we have seen an increase in refugees being evicted onto the streets, which is clearly absurd. That’s why we are calling for the next Government to adopt a cross-government approach to ending homelessness and to mitigate the risks new refugees face when leaving the asylum system.”