The costs of destitution

The cost-benefit analysis of extending the move-on period for new refugees

When a person is recognised as a refugee in the UK, they have just 28 days to avoid homelessness and destitution. For many, 28 days is not long enough.

In December 2018, we published a report showing how the 28-day move-on period often leaves people facing extreme poverty and homelessness. Through it, we recommended that the move-on period should be extended to at least 56 days.

We then commissioned the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to build on this research. They have now done a cost-benefit analysis of extending the move-on period to 56 days.

Our latest report, The costs of destitution, shares the LSE’s analysis. It concludes that giving refugees four additional weeks of support by extending the move-on period to 56 days could result in net annual benefits of between £4 million and £7 million to the UK.

What’s wrong with the move-on period?

The 28-day move-on period in the UK is leaving refugees on the brink of destitution. Evidence from people supported by British Red Cross services shows that newly recognised refugees are struggling after successfully applying for asylum. Many can’t move from asylum support to mainstream benefits and employment within the 28-day period given to them by the Home Office.

Recently the 28-day move-on process changed, leaving some people with as little as seven days to move out of their asylum accommodation. This is leading to devastating levels of destitution. 

In October 2023, we estimated that more than 50,000 refugees will be at risk of homelessness by the end of the year if the government clears the backlog – and even if decision-making on asylum claims isn’t sped up and the target not met, 26,000 people could still be at risk of destitution and homelessness.


Key findings

An extended move-on period would benefit national, regional and local governments, as well as local communities. Most importantly, it would give refugees the support they need as they start to rebuild their lives in the UK.

Increasing the move-on period from 28 to 56 days would lead to net financial benefits of £4 million to £7 million annually, across:

  • homelessness
  • rough sleeping
  • mental and physical health
  • wellbeing 
  • employability. 


Our recommendations:

Refugees should not face destitution and homelessness after being granted protection in the UK. To address this, our calls to decision makers is to:

  1. Extend the move-on period for newly recognised refugees to at least 56 days.
  2. Address the immediate administrative barriers that prevent newly recognised refugees moving on from asylum support.
  3. Improve the support provided to newly recognised refugees to help them navigate the move-on period, ensuring they are fully informed of and engaged with the decisions they are making.

Contact our policy and advocacy team