Accommodation and financial support for asylum seekers - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 03 February 2015 | Standard notes SN01909

Authors: Melanie Gower

Topic: Asylum

Asylum seekers are not eligible for mainstream welfare benefits whilst waiting for a decision on their asylum application. Instead, if they are destitute, they can apply to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI, a Home Office directorate) for accommodation and/or financial support (‘asylum support’).

Asylum support is terminated once a final decision has been made on an asylum application (i.e. when there are no further appeal rights). Asylum seekers granted permission to remain in the UK become eligible to work and access mainstream welfare benefits. Refused asylum seekers are expected to leave the UK. They have few support options, although some may be eligible for a more limited form of cashless support (known as ‘section 4 support’) if the Home Office accepts that there are temporary barriers to their departure.

Asylum support rates have not increased since April 2011. In April 2014 the High Court found that the Government’s decision to freeze asylum support rates for 2013/14 was “irrational” and “flawed”, in a judicial review brought by the charity Refugee Action. The Government has since reviewed asylum support rates, taking the judgment into account, but concluded that the support rates should remain unchanged.

Local authorities are responsible for providing support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children. They have very limited duties to support destitute adults subject to immigration control who have care needs.

As a general rule, asylum seekers are not allowed to work whilst they are waiting for a decision on their asylum application.

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