Open Letter challenging changes to the move-on period

7 September 2023

Recent shifts in policy have seen people who have secured refugee status facing severely reduced move-on periods, leaving them at risk of homelessness and destitution in the weeks after getting asylum.

This week, Positive Action in Housing joined over 100 organisations to call for a reversal to recent changes in Government policy reducing the move-on period for new refugees. The letter, which was addressed to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, addressed rapid increases in street homelessness in refugee communities.

Prior to this shift in policy, the 28-day move-on period was triggered once refugees received their Biometric Residence Permit, which is often required to seek accommodation and employment, open bank accounts, and apply for other forms of support. The changes leave people who secure their refugee status with around 7 days to move out of asylum accommodation. This is despite previous calls from the British Red Cross to increase this move-on period to 56 days to ensure that people have sufficient time to rebuild their lives without falling into poverty or homelessness.  

The Open Letter that we have supported warns that this shift heightens risks of homelessness, destitution and crisis amongst those affected, and will place disproportionate strain on charities and local authorities. Networks such as NACCOM have already reported a rise of 33% in the number of refugees it is supporting into accommodation from last year, warning of the stress and anxiety this is causing.  

This shift in policy demonstrates the wider trend of increasingly hostile policies, designed to trap people in cycles of destitution and poverty past the point of them securing refugee status. It goes so far as to contradict the Government’s own position within the Homelessness Reduction Act, which suggests those at risk of homelessness require 56 days at least to find security.  

The current asylum system is being designed to fail people precisely when they need it most. Getting refugee status, especially after the indefinite waiting times the Home Office are imposing, should be a time for people to celebrate and begin to build their lives with the security of status. Instead, policies like this rob people of a sense of safety, and increase the likelihood of destitution, homelessness and crisis.  

Excerpt from the Open Letter: 

“Receiving refugee status should be a time of celebration, but these changes are leaving individuals, including children, survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and survivors of human trafficking, facing a huge crisis just when their status is finally clarified. We urge you to abandon these changes to the move-on period and instead work with local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to ensure people are able to access the services they need.” 


Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead) and Sarah (Campaigns Volunteer)

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