MP Frank Field has blasted the “shameful” treatment of aslum seekers by the UK Government, as new evidence reveals how those who are granted permission to remain in the UK are often left without the financial means to support themselves.
In December 2015, the Work and Pensions Select Committee called on ministers to investigate the move-on period for refugees, “as their own research suggests 28 days is insufficient”.
This is the time given to asylum seeker’s, who have been granted permission to remain in the UK, to transition from Home Office subsistence payments to work or other benefits.
The Committee also noted that the processes and guidance designed to help particularly vulnerable claimants were “not working as they should, and are not enough to prevent claimants falling into debt.”
The report, published six months before the phased roll-out of Universal Credit began, found that benefit delays meant that 28 days was simply not enough time to complete the transission.
Committee chair Frank Field MP wrote to Secretary of State Amber Rudd in April this year, urging the Government to publish the results of an evaluation it agreed to conduct almost three years ago.
Responding to the letter, families and children minister Will Quince said “the investigation was carried out, and the main issue found was that in many cases refugees were leaving it until the move on period was well underway before making contact with DWP which then resulted in their benefit claim not having been processed by the end of the period”.
He added: “In response to that we have set up the Post-Grant Appointment Service which aims to contact refugees at the start of the 28 day” move on period.
Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Three and a half years ago, we pointed out to Government that its own research showed 28 days is simply not enough for some refugees to access the support they will desperately need, at least at the start, from the benefits system – and that the result was more people left destitute by the ticking clock of bureaucracy.
“The Government promised us in 2016 that it would act – but now we discover that the only “help” on offer is a Jobcentre appointment, and that this “offer” isn’t even reaching half of those who need it.
“The Government is simply sticking its head in the sand. It knows that the 28 day period just isn’t long enough for people who’ve fled persecution, violence and war.
“But it counts it as a success if some refugees manage to get themselves into debt from the word go, by taking a Universal Credit advance.
“When will it face facts, and make some real changes?”