Hundreds of asylum seekers in Redbridge waiting for outcome of their claims
PUBLISHED: 10:07 10 September 2020
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Hundreds of people in Redbridge are receiving support while they attempt to claim asylum in the UK, new figures reveal.
The Liberal Democrats have criticised the government’s “appalling and unacceptable” system for leaving vulnerable people in limbo for many months, after the numbers waiting for an asylum decision hit a record high across the UK.
People with ongoing claims for asylum receive financial assistance and accommodation through what is known as Section 95 support, as do those whose application was unsuccessful, but who had children in their household at the time.
Home Office figures show 584 people were receiving Section 95 support in Redbridge at the end of June – two fewer than at the end of March.
Across the UK, a record 45,769 people were getting support – 50 per cent more than five years previously.
Separate figures from the Home Office show the vast majority (72pc) of applicants waiting for a decision at the end of June had waited more than six months, compared to just 54pc the year before.
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Applicants are prevented from claiming welfare benefits – and in most cases from working – while waiting for a decision.
Those receiving Section 95 support are given accommodation, typically in hostels or shared flats, access to healthcare, education for children under 18, and £5.66 per day in aid.
Christine Jardine, a Liberal Democrat MP and the party’s Home Affairs spokeswoman, said: “We should welcome people who’ve come to the UK fleeing war or persecution with compassion and enable them to contribute to our society, not keep them trapped for months on just £5.66 a day – especially now during this pandemic.
“The way the Home Office is treating these vulnerable people is appalling and unacceptable.”
In Redbridge, 506 people were being provided with accommodation at the end of June, while 78 applicants were receiving financial assistance only, having found their own place to live.
The Home Office prevents asylum seekers from working unless their claim has been outstanding for 12 months through no fault of their own, and restricts them to jobs in which the UK has a shortage of workers.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We are dealing with sustained high levels of new asylum applications which is creating pressure and the impact of Covid-19 has significantly impacted on our ability to progress asylum claims. “As restrictions are lifted we are getting the system moving once again and we have plans in place to improve the speed with which outstanding asylum claims are decided.”
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