Refugee move on period

Increase the move-on period for refugees

When a refugee receives a positive decision on their asylum claim, they have just 28 days to avoid extreme poverty

A man walks along the street alone with his head hung low.

What’s wrong?

The 28-day move-on period in the UK is leaving refugees on the brink of extreme poverty. Evidence from people who use Red Cross services shows that newly recognised refugees who receive leave-to-remain are struggling. Many can’t move on from asylum support to mainstream benefits and employment within the 28-day period given to them by the Home Office.

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 time frame.

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 living in extreme poverty. 

Who’s affected?

The British Red Cross supports around 15,000 refugees and asylum seekers each year who are extremely poor. One in five have refugee status.

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

What needs to change?

The UK government has now committed to reviewing the 28-day window. This will be based on an evaluation of the average time it takes new refugees to find work, apply for benefits and find somewhere to live.

In Northern Ireland, a £55,000 crisis fund supports migrants, refugees and asylum seekers facing emergency situations. We manage this fund on behalf of the Northern Ireland Executive.

However, 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, refugees and the charities working with refugees during this period.

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

Our calls to decision makers:

  • Extend the move-on period to 50 days, to avoid a break in support.
  • Only start the clock ticking once a refugee receives key documents – such as a National Insurance number.
  • JobCentre Plus should ensure that all staff are trained and up-to-date on the issue of refugee transition.

Support our calls

England - get in touch with Jon Featonby:

Scotland - get in touch with Fiona MacLeod:

Wales - get in touch with Kate Manning:

Northern Ireland - get in touch with Mary Friel: