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Thousands of refugees set to be evicted from Home Office accommodation within two weeks

Refugees will face ‘cliff edge’ in support unless suspension on evictions is extended, charities warn

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 17 June 2020 07:12 BST
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Ministers said the halt on evictions would be reviewed in June, but charities are still waiting to receive an update from government, and fear many newly granted refugees and asylum seekers will fall homeless as a result
Ministers said the halt on evictions would be reviewed in June, but charities are still waiting to receive an update from government, and fear many newly granted refugees and asylum seekers will fall homeless as a result

Thousands of refugees could be evicted from their government-funded accommodation within a matter of weeks, prompting fears of a “new mass homelessness population” during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Home Office announced at the end of March that asylum seekers would not be asked to leave their accommodation once their claim or appeal had been decided for the next three months due to the lockdown.

Ministers said the halt on evictions would be reviewed in June, but charities are still waiting to receive an update from government, and fear many newly granted refugees, and asylum seekers who have received negative decisions, will face a “cliff edge” in support in a fortnight.

The government is already under scrutiny over its treatment of immigrants after the Windrush scandal saw hundreds of Caribbean migrants living and working in the UK wrongly targeted as a result of its “hostile environment” policies.

Hazel Williams, national director at the NACCOM Network, said: “We are extremely concerned that thousands of newly granted refugees and people seeking asylum could be evicted from their Home Office accommodation over the next few months, leaving them homeless and unable to access services, many with no recourse to public funds.

“The cliff edge we feared could become a reality as we still await news of the Home Office plans. Creating a new mass homelessness population, is not only inhumane, but during a global pandemic creates the potential for a public health disaster.

Ms Williams called for the suspension of evictions to be extended for the next 12 months to enable people to access the advice and support they need.

Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “A responsible and humane government would never intentionally make people homeless.

“If this government does restart mass evictions it will heap yet more misery on people seeking asylum. Many are already suffering in this pandemic, struggling to meet their essential needs due to appallingly low financial support.

“The government must provide more clarity on its timeline for evictions, and make sure the asylum support system keeps a roof over people’s heads and food on their table.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have said very clearly that we are taking a compassionate approach during this pandemic with those affected by circumstances beyond their control. Action has been taken across the asylum system to help, including supporting people who would otherwise have been destitute with accommodation and essential living costs, and it is right that we review arrangements at the end of June to make sure the most appropriate support is in place.”

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