Asylum SupportBlog

Last month, on the 15th of December, an important High Court judgement made in Manchester found that the Home Secretary had been in breach of her statutory duties for several months by failing to increase asylum support to the legal level required for people to avoid destitution. This is an unusual judgement made possible by a legal challenge prepared by our friends and colleagues at Greater Manchester Law Centre. GMLC’s Kathleen Cosgrove said, “the case has shown that the Home Secretary has, knowingly, and for months, broken the laws set by her own Parliament and left 60,000 adults and children, residing lawfully in this country and who she has accepted a duty to support, with less than they need to meet essential living needs.” 

The direct result is that this month, the weekly amount of asylum support was increased from £40.85 to £45. It’s still an insulting amount: nowhere near enough to meet the essential living costs for anyone. Such an amount traps people seeking safety in poverty without the right to work to make ends meet. But the Court’s damning judgement is important because it shows the lack of care and accountability in the Home Office. Not until her hand was forced by the courts did the Home Secretary consider making life more liveable for people who have sought safety in the UK. The work by GMLC to get to this point also shows the importance of such organisations existing: community-based not-for-profit legal advice and representation by people fighting day in day out for people to access their rights. 

GMIAU’s Service Manager Maria says: 

We’re very pleased with the recent court ruling and send a big thank you to the hard working solicitors at the GMLC. Any increase in financial support for those on asylum support is always welcome. People we support were managing on £40.85 per person, an amount that has hardly increased since the inception of asylum support in 2000, and one that we have seen drastic cuts to such as in 2015 when the Home Office reduced the amount paid to children by £16 to £36.95. These are times where everyone is feeling the cost of living crisis and those with the smallest incomes are hit the hardest. The people we see struggle to meet the basic needs of their children and themselves let alone be able to treat their children to things we might take for granted like a birthday present, an ice cream in the park or a trip to the swimming baths. This increase in support has off set some of the real term cuts given the rising inflation and changes in cost of living. This is a very necessary and welcomed increase but there is a long way to go before we can say people who are seeking sanctuary in the UK are well supported and able to maintain a decent quality of life for themselves and their children. 

GMIAU’s Chief Executive Denise says: 

Without this legal challenge to the injustice in the asylum support system, the Home Secretary would not have been held to account. Greater Manchester Law Centre has demonstrated the importance and necessity of community legal advice to serve the interests of people who are often invisible and marginalised.

To find out more about Greater Manchester Law Centre, visit their website.

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