UK asylum system forces people into poverty

15 September 2023

As we leave the summer months, it is likely that we will once again see the worst impacts of the cost-of-living crisis across the UK.

Image of food provided at hotel

Data released recently shows 52% of adults spending more than they were to get their usual food shop.  44% of adults are using less gas and electricity in their homes because of the rising cost of living.  

The provision for low-income households across the UK has been pitiful, consistently failing to offset the impact of this crisis. Trussell Trust have recently reported a 37% increase in the amount of food packages they have had to give out to struggling individuals and families. Similarly, for members of our communities unable to access welfare support, who are living on asylum support or without recourse to public funds, inadequate state provision has left them vulnerable to the growing costs of simply staying alive.  

For people living in Home Office accommodation, support rates remain exceptionally low. For those that we work with in catered Home Office accommodation, £9.59 per week leaves them without toiletries and a choice of food. We have heard from those who have been served raw meat, those who have been left without their dietary needs met, and those who have gone hungry due to the consistently poor quality of food served. Of those who have responded to our self-help form, 52.4% are looking for help with accessing food.  

Enforced poverty is built into the asylum system, where the backlog of 175,000 asylum cases is trapping people in insecurity. Those who finally receive a decision are now faced with the possibility of a 7-day move-on period, a recent shift in legislation that is likely to increase street homelessness and destitution for those receiving refugee status.  

As the winter months loom, we are deeply concerned about the reality that will be facing those we are working with. Whilst the Home Office attempts to move people seeking safety into potential deathtrap accommodation centres, the cost-of-living crisis is set to continue, having catastrophic impacts on the livelihoods and wellbeing of millions across the UK. The Government rapidly needs to address the ongoing failures that are seeing growing inequality and destitution, to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to food, security and safety.  


Iona Taylor (Advocacy and Campaigns Lead), and Adam Paterson (Advocacy and Campaigns Officer) 

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