Asylum support, accommodation and unaccompanied asylum seeking children
Asylum eligibility and support
The UK has a proud history of welcoming and supporting those in need of our protection, in line with our international obligations.
To stay in the UK as a refugee you must be unable to live safely in your own country because you fear persecution.
If an asylum seeker would otherwise be destitute, they are provided with free accommodation and a cash allowance to cover essential living needs.
Asylum seekers receive this support until their claim is decided. After that, only those who have children, are taking steps to leave or if there is a temporary obstacle to their departure continue to receive support.
Asylum accommodation and dispersal
We transitioned to new, improved contracts for the provision of asylum accommodation in September 2019.
The new contracts demand high standards from our contractors and their accommodation and we remain committed to improving the service we provide to destitute asylum seekers.
To ensure that any issues are quickly identified and that standards are maintained all our properties are inspected by the providers on a monthly basis, in addition to regular inspections carried out by Home Office officials.
If providers do not address the issues within certain timescales, we will take action which can include financial penalties.
The Home Office takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live extremely seriously.
We are grateful to the 169 Local Authorities who have agreed to take part in asylum dispersal across the country and we continue to work closely with councils to encourage more to participate.
Asylum accommodation providers must consult with the relevant local authority on all properties they intend to use. Through this process local authorities can raise any concerns they have.
The new contracts also provide greater opportunities to address issues raised by Local Authorities in relation to asylum dispersal at a local and national level and our service providers are working in partnership with them.
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC)
We take our responsibilities towards unaccompanied children extremely seriously and in the last 12 months we gave protection to over 7,000 children.
The Home Office recently increased funding for local authorities supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children by over £30 million and next year will see the largest increase in spending for local authorities since 2015 through the local government funding settlement.
The local government settlement includes an additional £1 billion grant for adults and children’s social care, on top of the continuation of existing social care grants.
National Transfer Scheme and financial support for local authorities
To ensure that certain local authorities were not disproportionately affected by UASC, the Government introduced the National Transfer Scheme in 2016.
Since then over 900 children have been transferred to authorities with capacity to look after them. This makes sure there is an even distribution of caring responsibility across the country.
Safe and legal routes
The UK has world leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year.
Since 2010 we have granted asylum, resettlement or an alternative form of protection to over 100,000 people. In fact, since 2016, the UK has resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any other EU state and we will continue to do all we can to help the world’s most vulnerable.
It is a widely accepted international principle that those seeking asylum should claim it in the first safe country that they reach – that is the fastest route to safety.
People should not be risking their lives on dangerous and illegal journeys travelling from one safe country to another and that is why we have safe and legal routes for vulnerable refugees to come to the UK.
Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme
Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS) was launched in January 2014 for refugees of any nationality still in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (i.e. in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey) that have fled Syria because of the current conflict (i.e. after March 2011).
The Government has committed to resettle 20,000 vulnerable refugees who have fled Syria by 2020.
To date, over 17,000 refugees, many of whom children, have been given the chance to rebuild their lives in safety across 317 local authorities in the UK.
We work closely with UNHCR to identify vulnerable refugees who have fled Syria, who UNHCR deem in need of resettlement and whose particular needs can only be met in countries like the UK.
As part of VPRS, we also have a scheme called Community Sponsorship.
This enables community groups to become directly involved in supporting the resettlement of refugees fleeing conflict and in need of protection in the UK.
To date, 69 families and 344 people have been resettled in the UK under the scheme, across the whole of the UK.
To encourage more groups to take part, the Home Office has also provided £1m to an NGO, Reset, who provide training, guidance and support for those wishing to apply.
Community Sponsorship transforms communities at the same time as it transforms the lives of refugee families
The Government also provides a safe and legal route to bring families of refugees together through its refugee family reunion policy.
In the year ending June 2019, 5,993 family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those previously granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, a similar number to the previous year. Of these, around half (2,913) were issued to children.
Section 67 of the Immigration Act (Dubs Amendment)
The UK has made a significant contribution to protecting vulnerable children, providing protection to more than 39,500 children since the start of 2010. In 2018, the UK received the third highest number of asylum claims from unaccompanied children in the EU.
We remain fully committed to relocating 480 children under section 67 and are continuing to make progress to achieve that objective.
There are other safe and legal routes for people to come to the UK should they wish to join family members here, work or study. They would need to meet the requirements of the relevant Immigration Rule under which they were applying to qualify for a visa.
The Dublin Regulation is a long-standing mechanism between EU Member States to determine which single State has responsibility for examining an asylum claim. The Dublin Regulation includes a number of criteria to determine responsibility, such as where a first claim for asylum is lodged and provides family reunification provisions.
In 2018, the number of incoming transfers to the UK was 1,215. Of those who transferred in, 159 were unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) and 903 came to the UK under other family reunion provisions in the Regulation.
Support in the region
To date, we have committed £2.81 billion in response to the Syria Crisis, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. Since 2012, across Syria and the region, we have provided over 28 million food rations, over 17 million medical consultations, and over 12 million vaccines. Our aid provides life-saving support to millions of Syrians, supporting refugees to remain in countries in the region, and enabling their host communities to accommodate them.
DFID has spent at least £1.35 billion to support the over 5.6 million refugees in the region. Our programmes are aimed at meeting immediate humanitarian need, providing quality education to all children and creating job opportunities. We are supporting the governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to cope with a protracted refugee presence, and enable Syrian refugees to remain in the region until they can return safely to Syria.
Global resettlement scheme – starting in 2020
In June 2019, the Home Office announced a continued commitment to resettlement with a new global scheme to start in 2020. In the first year of operation, we will aim to resettle in the region of 5000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees.
The new resettlement scheme will consolidate the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and the Gateway Protection Programme into one global scheme.
The new programme will be simpler to operate and provide greater consistency in the way that the UK Government resettles refugees. It will broaden the geographical focus beyond the Middle East and North Africa.
A new process for emergency resettlement will also be developed, allowing the UK to respond quickly to instances when there is a heightened need for protection, providing a faster route to resettlement where lives are at risk.
This factsheet was updated on 5 November 2019.
To Note: All stats quoted above are up to the end of June 2019.