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'Move-on' period leaving 'forgotten' refugees homeless, report claims

Published 20/05/2016

Newly recognised refugees were being virtually abandoned by the government, campaigners said
Newly recognised refugees were being virtually abandoned by the government, campaigners said

"Forgotten" refugees are being left hungry and homeless in England, a new report claims.

They are being virtually abandoned by the government which has committed to protect them, according to campaigners.

The Refugee Council explored the experience of newly recognised refugees within the first year of being granted asylum.

When their asylum claim is granted, those who are receiving accommodation and subsistence payments from the Home Office are informed that it will cease in 28 days, the report said.

It added: "This is known as the 'grace' or 'move-on' period and it is expected in this time that the newly recognised refugee will be able to secure housing and income in this time frame."

Newly granted refugees can apply for a one-off loan to help with integration which can be used for rent or a deposit, with a minimum amount of £100.

But the Government "aspires" to process the payments within six weeks - two weeks longer than refugees have before facing eviction, according to the charity.

It said this results in many becoming homeless and destitute, with a survey of 100 users showing 81 were homeless or about to be at the point they accessed its services.

Newly recognised refugees were being forced to rely on food banks, charities or friends for access to food, money and accommodation, the Refugee Council said.

Its paper highlighted contrasts with the arrangements for those coming to the UK on resettlement programmes such as the scheme for Syrian refugees announced last year.

It said: "The Government's flagship resettlement programme for Syrian refugees demonstrates that ministers clearly understand that refugees need specialist support to integrate into British society if they are to successfully begin rebuilding their lives.

"All refugees arriving via this programme receive personalised, tailored and government-funded integration support.

"In stark contrast - there is no government-funded specialist integration support for refugees who have not been resettled here, and have instead been granted asylum."

Report co-author and Refugee Council head of advocacy Dr Lisa Doyle called on the Government to "acknowledge this hidden crisis" and "make sure no-one who's granted protection in Britain is left with nowhere safe to sleep".

A Government spokeswoman said: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits.

"Asylum seekers who are granted refugee or other status in the UK are entitled to unrestricted access to the labour market and have broadly the same benefits as British citizens and other lawful residents, including access to accommodation, free access to NHS healthcare and free primary and secondary education for their children.

"Newly granted refugees also have access to a dedicated helpline and can apply for integration loans to help them with transition costs such as rent deposits.

"However, we do recognise that there are complex reasons why some newly recognised refugees do not secure access to DWP benefits before their Home Office support ends 28 days after they are granted status.

"That is why a review is being conducted as to whether there is a need to increase this period."

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