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Home Office acted unlawfully towards asylum seekers, says High Court

10 April 2014

The British Red Cross and refugee organisations are celebrating a landmark verdict. Yesterday, a judge ruled that Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to freeze asylum support for the fourth year running was “flawed”. 

We fully supported the challenge by Refugee Action and submitted evidence to the High Court of Justice in favour of the case. 

Meeting the cost of living

A single adult asylum seeker currently receives around £36 per week – and this figure has not changed since April 2011. 

We believe that asylum support should reflect the rising cost of living, like income support. This is especially important given the fact that asylum seekers in the UK are not allowed to work.

Thousands of asylum seekers and refugees come to us every year for extra support because they are destitute and cannot meet even essential living needs, such as regular meals or having enough clothes to wear. Our research suggests that people most commonly stay in this state of poverty for between two and five years (41%).

We give as much advice and support as possible – but, on average, we can only give people who use our refugee services just £10 a week in cash or supermarket vouchers. 

Forming a fairer system

Unless it appeals the decision, the Home Office now has until 9 August to review the rates of financial support for asylum seekers. 

Hugo Tristram, refugee services development officer at the British Red Cross, said: “We’re extremely happy with this result. We believe all asylum seekers, irrespective of status, should be treated with dignity and respect in the UK.

“We will now apply as much organisational pressure as we can so the Home Office follows the spirit of the ruling. We hope the Secretary of State will work with us and other organisations to ensure the asylum system is fair and efficient.”

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