Over the past two weeks, we’ve heard from many of you about the significant increase in the number of refugees presenting for support.
What’s caused the increase?
We know the increase is largely due to a Home Office operational change to when asylum support is withdrawn. Refugees will now be notified when they receive a positive decision that their asylum support and accommodation will end in 28 days. Simultaneously, refugees who previously received a positive decision and have been accommodated by the Home Office for more than 28 days will receive 7 days’ notice of their support being withdrawn.
How is this different from the previous approach?
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. Refugees were notified at this point that their asylum support would be withdrawn in 28 days. This approach was taken as its widely understood that BRPs which can take several weeks to arrive, will be the only identification many refugees will have to confirm their immigration status and entitlements including access to housing.
How is Homeless Link responding to this change?
We are engaging with Home Office and Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) officials to raise concerns about the significant impact the change is having/will continue to have on your services and the people you support. We are also working closely with local authorities, homelessness and migrant sector groups and organisations to understand the Home Office's implementation of this process and to influence change.
On 6 September, we joined over 140 organisations in signing an open letter asking Government to abandon the changes to the move on period. We also called for government to instead work with local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to ensure people can move on to suitable accommodation and access the services they need.
What can you do ?
The lack of information about the implementation of this process from the Home Office to Local Authorities and voluntary sector organisations has been incredibly frustrating and left many of us asking how we should be responding. If you are supporting a refugee who has, or is about to have, their asylum support withdrawn, you can:
- Signpost them to your local housing options team. People granted refugee status are entitled to statutory support including benefits. Refugees should be able to use their positive decision letter to confirm their entitlements if they are yet to receive a BRP.
- Keep up to date with migrant services in your area and signpost people to these services (useful links: NACCOM, Migrant Help, Praxis, and Refugee Council).
- Read our updated guidance for supporting refugees and people with restricted eligibility.
- View Migrant Help’s Positive Asylum Decision FAQ for additional information about what refugees should do.
- Help us to influence government by sharing how you and the people you support have been impacted by this change.