accessibility & help

The move-on period: an ordeal for new refugees

Two refugees keep a diary as they battle with piles of paperwork

You’ve just received a positive decision on your asylum claim. You are allowed to stay in the UK, where you are safe: this means you have refugee status.

This should be a time of celebrating – but these moments of joy can give way to weeks of frustration. 

28 days to move on

The Home Office will give you 28 days before they withdraw your asylum support, such as housing and basic living expenses. 

That means you have 28 days to:

  • claim new benefits to tide you over – which you are allowed to receive
  • find somewhere to live – as you have to leave your asylum housing
  • look for a job – as you now have permission to work.

That would be a lot for anyone’s to-do list – but you also have to fill out forms and process documents first.

Suddenly, you are caught in a complex system of admin and paperwork.  

Before you know it, you could be worried about how you are going to get your next meal. 

Reporting an ordeal

The British Red Cross supports around 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers each year who are destitute. One in five have refugee status.

We give them help such as food vouchers, as they are unable to meet their basic living needs. 

Our report, ‘The move-on period: an ordeal for new refugees’, uses qualitative and quantitative data to understand why many new refugees are at particular risk of destitution in this 28-day timeframe. 

Key findings 

  • Moving to mainstream benefits usually takes much longer than 28 days: one person in our study had to wait almost three months to receive such support. 
  • This delay is usually because of red tape and inefficiency from government staff.
  • In total, we identified 23 factors that can affect the process. For some people, between five and ten different issues were causing a hold-up.
  • As a result, all the new refugees in our study were destitute.

We all need to fix the system

All the parties involved have to work better together to make this ‘move-on’ period a success. 

This includes the Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, JobCentre Plus, the refugees, and the charities working with refugees during this period.

We will be working with government to make this happen – and continue to help those who have the right to a safe life here. 

Main recommendations

  • Extend the move-on period to 40 days, to avoid a break in support.
  • Only start the clock ticking once a refugee receives key documents – such as a National Insurance number.
  • The JobCentre Plus should ensure that all staff are trained and up-to-date on the issue of refugee transition.

Read the full report

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