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Red Cross: universal credit will leave recognised refugees destitute

Red Cross: universal credit will leave recognised refugees destitute

The Red Cross has published a new report on what they call the “move on” period for refugees, which is the period of 28 days between when they get formally recognised as a refuge and issued with status papers and the end of their centrally administered asylum support housing and payments. In that time, the refugee is supposed to be able to arrange and obtain accommodation and support from their local authority in the area in which they live. But in practice the period is too short and refugees end up homeless and destitute. The problem will be exacerbated by the coming introduction of Universal Credit. The key findings are of the report are:

  • Twenty-eight days is not enough time for newly recognised refugees to move onto mainstream benefits or find somewhere new to live.  All 26 refugees who took part in our research faced problems and were left without their most basic needs for up to 72 days.
  • Universal Credit has made it almost inevitable that refugees will be left without support. An automatic 35-day wait to receive the first Universal Credit payment is completely incompatible with the 28 days afforded to newly recognised refugees to access Universal Credit.
  • The safeguards within the Universal Credit system to ensure claimants are not left without support are often not accessed by refugees. They are often unaware that they are eligible or cannot receive them because they don’t have a bank account.

The Red Cross also makes recommendations on addressing the problems, including extending the move on period to 56 days. There’s simply no reason for inflicting this on recognised refugees so let’s hope the Government listens.

Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

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