Response - UK Border Agency: Reforming Asylum Support

By: Elizabeth O'Hara  Published: February 2010


We welcome the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) commitment to fulfilling its obligations under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The UN Convention requires signatories to make social welfare provision available to those who seek asylum. Although the UKBA is responsible for the accommodation and support needs of those seeking asylum in the UK, there are increasing levels of destitution among the asylum-seeking population, including children. We are very concerned about the levels of destitution at all stages in the asylum process. Numerous reports have highlighted this issue, many of which are referenced in this consultation response.

Summary

We are disappointed that the consultation does not recognise the problems of poverty and destitution of those either in the asylum process or at the end of it. Instead it focuses on using the support system as a means of encouraging compliance with enforcement and increasing rates of voluntary return. Accommodation and support should be provided to asylum seekers to honour commitments under the 1951 Convention, rather than as a tool of immigration control.

Our main concerns are:

  • the proposed re-enactment of s.55 of the 2002 Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act; and,
  • the proposal to place families in full board accommodation.

Neither of these proposals is acceptable to Shelter. We have successfully campaigned on these issues in the past and they remain core concerns.

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