Support for Asylum Seekers

Written by: Keoghs Solicitors

Date: 17th November 2013

Syrian Asylum seekers in France are demanding access from Calais to the UK. They claim that they are, “treated like dogs” in France and that their cases are not being considered quickly or fairly. Complaints about their treatment in France, follows previous decision by the Courts as to the poor treatment of asylum Seekers by other European countries, in particular Italy and Greece. But, if you have fled your own country and are seeking asylum in the UK, what exactly are your rights?

If you are homeless or without money to buy food (‘destitute’) you may qualify for housing and/or cash support provided by the Home Office whilst your asylum claim is pending.

Financial Support

If you are entitled to cash support, your Home Office case owner will arrange for you to collect your money each week from a post office near where you live.  More information on how to apply and the application form can be obtained here.

You will need to show your application registration card at the post office each time you collect your money. Without your card, you will not be able to collect any payments. The amount of money you receive will depend on your circumstances, such as your age and whether you are single or part of a family.

The current support amounts are as follows:

  • Qualifying couple (married or in a civil partnership): £72.52
  • Lone parent aged 18 or over: £43.94
  • Single person aged 18 or over, excluding lone parent: £36.62
  • Person aged at least 16, but under 18 (except a member of a qualifying couple): £39.80
  • Person aged under 16: £52.96.

The level of cash support takes into account the fact that asylum applicants have access to fully furnished and rent-free accommodation with utilities (such as electricity, gas and water) included.

If you are a woman who is pregnant or has children under the age of three, you are entitled to extra money. See Extra money for mothers and children for more details.

Accommodation

If you are homeless, the Home Office will give you somewhere to live in a place where suitable housing is available. You will not be able to choose where this is.

The Home Office provide housing in the following regions of the United Kingdom:

  • North West;
  • Midlands;
  • North East;
  • Wales; and
  • Scotland.

Housing is not provided in London. Very limited housing may be available in the south-east of England. You must stay at the address unless the Home Office gives you permission to move.

If you are given housing in the North West of England, we have a number of offices where you can seek legal assistance with your case, you can find out details about our offices  here.

Housing at first is provided in initial accommodation, which gives you somewhere to live for the first two or three weeks. After this you will usually move to different housing. It will normally be in the same region of the country as your initial accommodation, and in the region where your case owner works. You will not be able to choose where you live. If after you have been given accommodation, you decide that you no longer want the Home Office to provide your housing, you need to tell your Home Office case owner. Failure to stay in contact with your Home Office case owner and report to them as instructed, may result in your support being stopped and you may be detained in a secure centre.

Health Care

While you are waiting for your asylum decision, you and your dependants can receive healthcare from the National Health Service (often known as the NHS). This includes seeing a doctor or having hospital care free of charge. You can register with a doctor who practises in your area (known as a GP, or general practitioner) and with a dentist.

If you receive asylum support from the UK Border Agency you may qualify for extra free healthcare such as NHS prescriptions, dental care, sight tests and vouchers to help you buy glasses. To get this you need to obtain an HC2 certificate, which is issued by the UK Border Agency on behalf of the Department of Health and is evidence that you cannot afford to pay for these things yourself. You can ask your Home Office case owner about this. The certificate is for you and any dependants you have. It is valid for six months.

Education

The children of asylum applicants have the same right to education as all other children in the United Kingdom. You must make sure they receive full-time education if they are of compulsory school age. It is compulsory for children to have full-time education between the ages of five and 16. This is usually at school. A child must start education in the term after he/she turns five, and must continue it until June of the year he/she turns 16.

If you have any dependants of compulsory school age, you must make sure they receive full-time education, usually by sending them to school. The organisation responsible for providing education in your area is the local council. It must make sure all children living in its area receive full-time education, regardless of the child’s immigration status. The education must be appropriate to the child’s age and abilities and any special education needs he/she has.

Legal Advice

As somebody who has claimed asylum, you may be entitled to free legal; representation with your case. At Keoghs, Nicholls, Lindsell & Harris Solicitors we have a Legal Aid contract and can offer assistance for asylum seekers throughout Greater Manchester and Lancashire.