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Successful challenge over UK government policy on asylum-seeker subsistence payments

The judicial review action was taken by a coalition, led by Refugee Action, who described the payments given to asylum seekers, awaiting decisions about whether they can settle in Britain, as “…cripplingly low”.  Currently asylum-seekers receive £36.62 a week, a sum that has not changed since 2011. 

There are estimated to be more than 23,000 asylum-seekers in Britain.  Refugee Action stated:
‘Our research also found that 43% of asylum-seekers miss a meal because they can’t afford to eat while a shocking 88% don’t have enough money to buy clothes’

The Judge held that the Home Secretary’s decision to freeze rates for a third year in a row in 2013-14 amounted to a “…a reduction in real terms from what was regarded in 2007 as the bare minimum level necessary to avoid destitution.”  The Judge also ruled the decision unlawful, adding:
In my judgment, the information used by the Secretary of State (for the Home Office) to set the rate of asylum support was simply insufficient to reach a national decision to freeze rates.” 

The Judge ordered the Home Secretary to reach a new decision by 9th August taking into account the guidance in his judgment.

A spokesperson for the Home Office stated:
“We are disappointed with the judgment.  We are looking at all options, including appeal.”

For further commentary please click here.

Following the judgment Refugee Action is urging people to sign up to an online petition to persuade the Home Office to ‘bring back dignity’ to asylum seekers. For further information click here.

Immigration & Asylum