Response to Asylum data released by Migration Observatory

8 November 2019

New data released by the Migration Observatory – based in Oxford University – finds that the majority of asylum seekers are being housed in disadvantaged local authority areas, while dozens of wealthy councils support none, and  face long delays to their claims being decided, but more than half are eventually accepted.
Commenting on the findings, Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing, a refugee and migrant homelessness charity based in Glasgow, said the charity had witnessed asylum seekers waiting years for decisions. She also said that that while Glasgow had welcomed tens of thousands of asylum seekers to the city since 2000 when forced dispersal first began, people had no choice of where to live, and were forbidden to work, which meant that they could not access support from family or friends already settled here, or stand on their own two feet, thereby making speedy resettlement even more difficult, and increasing their reliance on charity.
“The problems we are seeing is people of working age are reduced to a state of enforced idleness for years at a time, forbidden to work, before they get their papers. Many people awaiting the asylum claims have spent several years living in and out of destitution, at the cost of their mental health, trying to survive daily, instead of focusing on their asylum claim and making  something of their lives. Eventually, they get leave to remain but why must it take years? People should be allowed to be productive members of their community wherever they are no matter what their status. Glasgow has lost millions in taxes because of UK asylum policy.
“Glasgow houses almost 5,000 asylum seekers, and has just embarked on a further ten-year asylum contract to take thousands of asylum seekers in. It is part of an ongoing programme for the past 19 years in this city. The destitution they are facing is because asylum landlords like Serco think its okay to turf hundreds of people out of their homes when the home office cuts their asylum support. This practice is being challenged in the Court of Session in Edinburgh with the outcome known on Wednesday 13 November 2019.
“Many people have been forcibly dispersed to Glasgow away from settled family members in other cities.People who have a connection with established family networks elsewhere should be allowed to go there. If they were allowed to work while they await their case, they could pay their own way, save some money. They could resettle quicker, sort their legal cases with the help of established family and community networks, They don’t need to be reduced to destitution, or rely on the state or charity, they are resourceful enough to build their own lives, if allowed to do so.
More info:
1. Positive Action in Housing is a BME homelessness charity based in Glasgow assisting new refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.
3. Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, Positive Action in Housing’s Lifeline Service provided proactive casework or emergency support to 1,501 destitute refugees or asylum seeker households.
4. Our Homelessness Advice Service helped new refugees and migrant families to access social housing and homelessness support.
5. The charity also raised over £1.2M in state entitlements for its service users – money that all went back into the Scottish economy.
6. Our Room for Refugees Network arranged 48,022 nights of continuous shelter, thanks to our volunteer hosts, and enabled 230 families and individuals to progress their cases and rebuild their lives. Decades of expertise mean the programme is stable and well run.
7. Our Emergency Relief Fund distributed £61,659, and our Winter Destitution Surgery supported 292 adults and 189 children – up from 24% since last year.
8. The migration observatory data released today, found that:
a. more than half of asylum seekers and resettled refugees accommodated by just 6 per cent of UK councils, all which have below average household income;
b. 32,396 of the 63,512 people who are seeking asylum or have been brought to Britain for resettlement are accommodated by just 6 per cent of local councils, all of which have below average household income.
c. The majority of asylum seekers are being housed in disadvantaged local authority areas, while dozens of councils – including wealthy parts of the South East – support none, analysis reveals.
d. While a minority of local councils take in thousands of people under the dispersal scheme, 24 local authorities – including South Cambridgeshire, Aylesbury and Chelmsford – have taken in none at all.
f. Asylum seekers face long delays to their claims being decided, but more than half are eventually accepted.
g. Three quarters of asylum seekers in the UK had waited more than six months for an initial decision on their claim by the end of 2018. However, more than half of asylum claims resulted in success for the applicant.
h. In recent years, 55% of asylum applications processed were eventually successful, with 38% granted at the initial decision, and a further 17% granted after appeal (appeals had a 40% success rate).
i. the highly unequal regional distribution of asylum seekers, with 20 local authorities – primarily in Scotland and the North of England – hosting as many asylum seekers [classified as those receiving ‘Section 95’ support] as the remaining 362 combined.
j. More than 150 local authorities in the UK didn’t house a single asylum seeker on Section 95 support in the year to June 2019, while Glasgow alone took more than 4,000. Many of these authorities will have supported resettled refugees, but nevertheless, the distribution of asylum seekers around the UK is pretty unequal.
k. The local authorities housing the most asylum seekers and refugees are Glasgow City, Liverpool and Birmingham – with 8,196 people between them – all of which fall considerably below the UK’s gross disposable household income per head, the analysis shows.
l. Concerns about the dispersal system were raised in a report by the Home Affairs Committee last year, in which MPs warned of “significant risks” to asylum accommodation provision if the government did not “urgently engage” with local authorities who are considering withdrawing from the scheme.

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