Sarah Tether MP will introduce a debate on “Asylum support for children and young people” on Wednesday 27 February (9.30-11.00am).. This follows the report of the cross party Parliamentary Inquiry into this issue in January 2013. The Inquiry made several positive recommendations, including that: Section 4 should be abolished, that asylum support should be increased annually at least in line with Income Support, that the rates of support should never fall below 70% of Income Support and that permission to work should be granted if an asylum application has not been concluded within six months.
These are key goals for Still Human and therefore all member agencies are urged to contact local MPs or any MPs they have links with and to:
(a) Brief them on the issue and ask them to speak in the debate on 27 February and to support recommendations from the cross party Parliamentary Inquiry in to asylum support for children and young people
(b) To sign Early Day Motion (EDM) No. 1019 on Asylum Support Rates, if they have not already done so. This EDM which calls on the Government to implement the above recommendations from the Inquiry. The full text and signatures to date can be seen at: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/1019
This is action is important because we need to show that there is substantial parliamentary support for these measures at time when the Government is reviewing the current support arrangements.
- The government should abolish Section 4 support and urgently implement a single cash-based support system for all children and their families who need asylum support while they are in the UK. This should include children who were born after an asylum refusal, to ensure that no child is left destitute.
- Asylum support for families also provided with accommodation should be aligned with mainstream benefit rates paid for living expenses. Where accommodation includes utilities (such as heating, lighting and water rates) which would normally be expected to be paid from living expenses, it is appropriate to make some deduction. However, these must be reasonable and comparable to those made from housing benefit where gas, electricity and water bills are covered within rent payments. The rates of support should never fall below 70% of income support.
- Support should be increased annually and at the very least in line with income support.
- Permission to work should be granted to asylum seeking parents and young adults if their claim for asylum has not been concluded within six months. Refused asylum seekers who cannot be returned to their country of origin should also be allowed to work.
- Newly dispersed families should be provided with comprehensive, written information in a language which they understand about their rights and entitlements, as well as practical information about services in their areas and where to get support.
- The government should ensure that asylum seekers’ needs for privacy are respected by housing providers, who should not enter properties unannounced.
- Ministers and the UKBA should work to promote positive relations between refugee and British communities, and a constructive public debate by celebrating and supporting this country’s proud tradition of giving sanctuary to those in need of protection.