Destitution and the right to work

Workshop on destitution and the right to work, facilitated by Mike Kaye (Still Human Still Here) and Dave Garratt (Refugee Action)

This workshop will provide an update on current initiatives to try and address the destitution of asylum seekers, including the outcome of the recent legal challenge on support levels and the local authority motions against destitution. It will also consider what action can be taken and what can be achieved in both the pre-election and post-election periods.


Information sheet on destitution and the right to work

Asylum support statistics

At the end of June 2014, there were:

  • 26,720 individuals receiving section 95 support (3,090 of whom were receiving subsistence only support)
  • 3,531 individuals receiving section 4 support
  • 17,609 asylum applications awaiting an initial decision, 9,829 of which have been pending for over six months.
    The dispersal areas which house most asylum seekers under section 95 are:


    Glasgow:             2,485
    Liverpool:            1,446
    Birmingham:       1,269
    Cardiff:                   976
    London:                  932
    Middlesbrough:     799
    Manchester:            779
    Leicester:                776
    Bolton:                     755

    Asylum seekers who have had their application refused and their appeal turned down will generally not be able to access any form of statutory support and many will find themselves street homeless. The British Red Cross estimates it assists around 6,000 asylum seekers each year in this position.

    Asylum support rates and Refugee Action’s legal challenge

    Asylum support rates and Refugee Action’s legal challenge

    Single adult asylum seekers on S95 receive just over £5 a day from which they have to pay for food, clothing, toiletries, household cleaning items, transport and pursue their asylum claim. Asylum seekers are effectively prohibited from working to support themselves.

    In February 2014, Refugee Action’s legal challenge on support rates was heard by the High Court. The Judge described the case as considering “what was sufficient to keep about 20,000 people above subsistence level destitution, a significant proportion of whom are vulnerable and have suffered traumatic experiences.”

    The Judge found (9 April 2014) that the Secretary of State’s decision to freeze the rates of support for asylum seekers was ‘flawed’ and compelled the Home Secretary to retake the decision, in accordance with the guidance contained in the judgement. This guidance states that essential living needs must include: essential household goods; nappies, formula milk and other special requirements of new mothers and very young children; non-prescription medication; and the opportunity to maintain interpersonal relationships and a minimum level of participation in social, cultural and religious life.

    In August, the Home Office completed its review of asylum support levels and concluded that the amounts provided were sufficient and in line with the judgement and that there would be no increase in the financial support provided. There has now been no increase in S95 support rates since April 2011.


    Workshop on destitution and the right to work

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