Homelessness Crisis for Refugees is Looming
9 November 2023
1400 people are at risk of street homelessness after a combination of Government policies leaves thousands vulnerable to destitution, exploitation and poverty.
What’s going on?
Last month, the UK Government announced its intention to work through the asylum backlog (currently at over 175,000 people) by bulk-processing claims from specific countries, including Afghanistan and Syria. As many as 2500 claims might be processed in Glasgow by January, with around 1800 predicted to receive refugee status.
Whilst these positive decisions should be celebrated, recent shifts in Government policy mean that many of these people will face street homelessness upon receiving their refugee status. The UK Home Office recently reduced the move-on period from asylum accommodation from 28 days to just 7 days, requiring people who receive a positive asylum decision to leave their accommodation in just 7 days. Coupled with the 35-day delay for receiving Universal Credit after an application, and Glasgow's existing housing crisis, the City Council has suggested that these changes will put new refugees at risk of homelessness with an estimated 77% who will need emergency accommodation.
So far, the UK government has shown no indication that it will provide additional funding or housing solutions to mitigate what Glasgow City Council have described as the “devastating” impacts of these policies.
What’s the impact?
In the midst of a national cost of living and housing crisis, these policies demonstrate the complete abandonment of people seeking asylum, many of whom have experienced persecution, conflict and torture. People seeking asylum do not have the right to work and are unlikely to have any savings for the moment that they finally get a positive decision on their asylum claim. Nonetheless, the combination of these policy shifts mean that people will receive a positive decision on their asylum claim, be required to leave their accommodation within 7 days, and then not receive any Universal Credit for over another month.
These policies force thousands of people to face abject poverty, leaving them uniquely at risk of exploitation after the trauma of fleeing their home and waiting in the UK asylum system. These policies – including the reduction of the move-on period from asylum accommodation, and an approach to clearing the asylum backlog through mass processing – are a direct threat to the wellbeing of new refugees.
What do we want?
In Glasgow, we are already witnessing a homelessness emergency. These policies must be overturned to prevent a further humanitarian crisis among the refugee population this Winter. We are calling for:
- A reversal of the policy that reduces the move-on period to 7 days. The Government’s own Homelessness Reduction Unit states that it usually takes around 56 days to find accommodation, a finding backed up by calls from the Red Cross to make move-on periods at least 56 days.
- Effective support given from the UK and Scottish Government’s to local authorities and councils that will be expected to house people who have received refugee status.
- The implementation of long-term solutions. We urge the Scottish Government to implement a Scotland-wide ‘rent-a-room scheme’, like that in England that encourages people to rent out space in their properties or homes. This provides £75000 a year tax-free to both owners and tenants.
What can you do?
- Share our content regarding this issue on social media, including this clip of our Advocacy and Campaigns Lead outlining these policy shifts,
- Contact your MSP regarding this issue, making the calls as detailed above,
- Support us to continue our work through the Winter months here.
Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead) and Sarah (Advocacy and Campaigns Volunteer)