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Sanctuary in Parliament

Dignity not Destitution

  • People seeking asylum should be granted permission to work after waiting for 6 months for a decision on their case. There should be no restrictions on the work that they undertake;
  • Asylum support should be raised to at least 70% of income support;
  • The move on period should be increased to at least 50 days to avoid any gaps in support.

For people seeking refugee protection in the UK, the risk of falling into poverty or homelessness is very real. After fleeing war, torture and persecution in their countries of origin, many refugees face ongoing hardships in the UK whilst stating their claim for protection from persecution.

We have legal obligations towards those who seek protection here. However, far too often statutory systems, structures and services fall short of their responsibilities, with devastating consequences on people’s lives.

City of Sanctuary groups across the UK and Ireland work with asylum-seekers and refugees in this situation every day. We see families struggling to get by on asylum support that’s set at less than 50% of mainstream income support, many parents skipping meals to ensure their children eat enough. We see vulnerable people having to choose between sleeping on a stranger’s sofa or in the streets after their applications for support are wrongfully refused. We see people with incredible skills, hungry for human interaction, and eager to contribute what they can, but forced into social isolation and banned from working to support themselves and their families. We even see newly granted refugees starting their new lives in the UK in homelessness and poverty, thanks to a complex bureaucratic system.

The picture that emerges is one of an asylum system with many obstacles and pitfalls and a fragile safety net that too often fails to protect vulnerable people from falling into destitution. Not only do these policies take an enormous toll on the physical and mental well-being of asylum-seekers and refugees, but they are damaging to communities, preventing integration and hampering their ability to rebuild their lives in the UK.

We know that things could be different. Across the City of Sanctuary network and the wider Sanctuary Alliance, we are committed to building a system of refugee protection which is just and fair for all, and allows those seeking safety to live in dignity not destitution. Our communities stand for a culture of welcome and hospitality, where people seeking refuge are able to integrate, contribute and find sanctuary.

No-one in the UK should be forced into poverty or homeless, including those who have sought refugee protection here. We can do better.