'Two-tier system' leaving many refugees destitute, politicians warn
Thousands of refugees in the UK run the risk of homelessness and destitution due to a lack of support from the Government, a cross-party report has found.
People granted refugee status after going through the asylum process receive less support than refugees brought to the UK through Government-led resettlement schemes, the inquiry found.
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on refugees called for the next government to improve levels of support available for all people who have fled to the UK.
The report found that more than 50,000 refugees have arrived through the asylum route since 2012, while resettlement programmes accounted for fewer than 10,000 people in the same period.
The panel of MPs and peers said a "two-tier system has developed for refugees", and criticised a 28-day cut-off period after which support is withdrawn for asylum seekers once their status is confirmed.
The report said: "Throughout our inquiry we were told by refugees and organisations that support them that the 28-day period - known as the 'move on' period - is too short.
"Coupled with the the lack of support for refugees to navigate the social security system and private housing market, the brevity of the move on period leaves too many newly-recognised refugees homeless and destitute."
The panel also criticised "drastic" cuts in funding for English language courses and said there was a "regrettable" lack of a strategy to integrate refugees in the UK.
The report recommends the incoming government appoints a new cross-department minister for refugees to oversee a new strategy.
The APPG's chairwoman, Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, said: "A refugee is a refugee however they were granted status. Most will want to return home when conflict is over and in the meantime want to contribute to this country.
"These are often skilled professionals and, by definition, they all have strength and determination to offer.
"But there are administrative flaws in the system which could be easily fixed. Creating a two-tier system for refugees, loading the dice against people who come here to build a new life, is not just the wrong thing to do, but a costly missed opportunity for Britain.
"The UK can learn from the positive examples of the resettlement programme and the Scottish integration scheme to enable refugees to contribute and feel welcomed. Refugees bring so many talents and skills - they just need the opportunities to unlock their potential."
Tory MP David Burrowes, the APPG's vice-chairman, said: "For too many refugees, being granted their status is the beginning of a period characterised by homelessness and destitution. Protection must mean more than just a piece of paper."
Stephen Hale, chief executive of charity Refugee Action, said: "This report is a timely wake-up call. The new government must seize the opportunity to enable all refugees in Britain, regardless of how they arrive, to successfully rebuild their lives.
"English language classes are critical to this. All parties should commit to increase funding for this in the next parliament, so that refugees' skills and experiences can enrich our culture and benefit our economy."