Locked into Poverty — Asylum Matters Report

In the last week of October, the Home Office announced that it would be increasing asylum support rates by 3p/week. If you are lucky, you might receive as much as £39.63. This is meant to cover all of your day-to-day living expenses. It’s a disgrace.

Asylum Matters published a report today, 2 November 2020, “Locked into Poverty – Life on Asylum Support”. It somehow manages to be both unsurprising and shocking reading. The Asylum support system is a disgrace.

As Asylum Matters say in the introduction to the report:

People who are seeking asylum are forced to depend on support from the Home Office while they wait for their asylum claim to be decided. They are effectively banned from workingand are locked into poverty living on asylum support.Asylum support levels are alarmingly low at £39.63 per person per week or £5.66 a day, forcing people to live below the poverty line for months, or even years at a time. This negatively impacts on their health, wellbeing and, and has a particularly devastating impact on children.

Locked into Poverty, p2

These are the key findings:

A culpture depicting 5 men in 30s garb waiting in line at a closed door
  • 92% of respondents stated they did not have enough money to buy all they need
  • 84% said they don’t always have enough money to buy food
  • 63% of people stated they could not always afford the medicines they needed
  • Only 1 in 4 people stated they could afford essential cleaning products
  • 95% of people stated they could not afford to travel by public transport
  • Only 1 in 10 people could afford data and phone credit they needed.
  • Recent opinion polling found 64% of people thought the amount people received was too little

Image credit: Peter Griffin, CC0 licence,

Thanks to your support and the community that makes up T4K, we’ve been able to provide some additional support to people on Asylum Support in Brighton. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve been able to pay for an Internet connection at each of the Asylum Support houses in town. We’ve also been able to provide support with food and clothing. Cash support would be wonderful, but the system is so cruel that to give people regular money is counter-productive. The cash is counted as income, needs to be declared to the subcontracted support agency, Migrant Help, and your “subsistence” income is docked accordingly.

It’s clear that the only purpose of the asylum support system is to punish people for having the temerity to seek sanctuary. There is a simple solution to the whole problem. You can let people find work and claim mainstream welfare benefits. Like everybody else, they will support themselves when they can and the welfare system will, more or less, soften the edges of a depressed and difficult job market. If you weren’t trying to be cruel, it would be the obvious thing to do.

You can support people on Asylum Support by signing up to T4K. You can help asylum seekers win their right to work by supporting the Lift the Ban coalition and, more importantly, asylum seekers own demand for staus now for all.

Refugee Action’s campaign video