Thousands of refugees and asylum seeker left 'penniless' after arriving in the UK, says Red Cross

'No one should be left homeless after fleeing the devastating conflict in Syria or persecution in Eritrea,' says Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson

Henry Austin
Friday 03 February 2017 19:53
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Red Cross volunteers help a homeless man
Red Cross volunteers help a homeless man

Thousands of refugees and asylum seekers are being left penniless after they arrive in the UK, according to a new report from the Red Cross, which said the figure has risen by 10 per cent in the space of a year.

“It’s clear that our asylum system can leave anyone destitute, including individuals who the Home Office has deemed in need of international protection,” said the charity’s chief executive Mike Adamson. “No one should be left homeless after fleeing the devastating conflict in Syria or persecution in Eritrea.”

He added: “Instead of creating a more hostile system which puts even more people at risk of living hand to mouth, we want to work with the government to address this largely hidden crisis.”

The report from the charity, which has centres in more than 50 British towns and cities and is the largest provider of services to asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, said it had “helped 14,909 people who had been left penniless last year – a 10 per cent increase from 2015.”

It said: “Destitute refugees and asylum seekers are found across the UK, with the Red Cross seeing people most frequently in Leicester, London and Cardiff.”

The most common reasons for them becoming destitute were “problems with asylum support payments, or support being stopped or suspended when an asylum claim is refused,” it added.

New refugees were frequently affected, it said.

At least 21 per cent of the people helped by the charity had refugee status, and therefore a legal right to protection and to remain in the UK, but 46 per cent were asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their initial application to remain in the UK, and who were entitled to housing and approximately £36 a week to cover basic living costs known as Section 95 support.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are supported by the Home Office. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection, but those who are refused asylum and have exhausted their appeal rights are expected to leave the UK.”

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