UK Home Office: Investor in People

10 June 2013
Zrinka Bralo

All those who have to deal with UK immigration authorities, under whatever name they operate now, know how to cope with the Kafkaesque features of the system designed to deter. The asylum support system take the supreme No. 1 spot in the hierarchy of shameful bureaucracy.

On 6th of June 2013 the following was announced in the House of Commons  (Column 119WS):

HOME DEPARTMENT

Asylum Support (Rates)

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 enables the Home Office to support asylum seekers while their application to remain in the UK is determined, and some failed asylum seekers who temporarily are unable to return home. Under these arrangements we provide the claimant and any family members with free fully furnished and equipped housing with no bills to pay, as well as modest rates of financial support to meet their essential day to day living needs.

I have carefully considered whether those rates of financial support are adequate for the purpose set by Parliament, which is to meet the essential living needs of those asylum seekers and their dependants who would otherwise be destitute. I have concluded that they are, and so I am announcing today that the rates will be frozen for the current year.

The Minister was very careful not mention the ‘adequate’ amount of support that he is referring to—£35 per week cashless, in the form of the Azure Card. This scheme is run by a for-profit company Sodexo, so the government is happy to spend money to make sure the most vulnerable in our society have no money.

And while the Minister was ‘carefully considering’ the levels of support, many of our members started receiving letters from a mysterious Home Office Support Payments Team telling them that from now on they will no longer be able to use their Azure Card and the ‘fortune’ allocated to them to purchase: vehicle fuel, store/gift cards or vouchers of any kind, tobacco products or alcohol.  Like so many of their letters, this one is not signed, but the irony of it becomes complete when, in the bottom right corner of the page, you see the INVESTORS IN PEOPLE logo.

Asylum seekers, as well as those whose application for asylum has been  refused but who cannot be removed, are not allowed to work, not allowed to study and have no cash to travel or communicate via a mobile phone. They are forced into shared accommodation, sometimes sharing single rooms in overcrowded houses and they have no choice regarding where to buy their food and toiletries.

Their isolation and humiliation is repeated on a daily basis through every interaction with the outside world. To waste public money and civil servants’ time to send them threatening letters about buying petrol, alcohol and tobacco is adding insult to injury, not only to asylum seekers but to all decent citizens, in whose name the Government is doing this.

Family Visa Rules: One Year  Of Heartache 

And while on one hand the Immigration Minister believes that a person can survive on £1,820 per year,  he is not convinced that Britons who marry foreigners should be allowed to do so unless they are earning a minimum of £18,600. This amount goes up with every child the couple has together, and the income that the foreign spouse brings into the relationship is not included.

Over the past year we heard and wrote about the heartbreaking stories of unnecessary suffering of split families. You can watch  a short video about the impact of these Family Rules produced by Divided Families Campaign.

According to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, the new rules will have the following impact on British citizens who are working: 47% will not qualify to bring in a family member;  61% of women will not qualify to bring in a family member and 29% of Londoners will not qualify to bring in a family member

This is because if you are on minimum wage, you are earning around £12,000 per year, and you will never have the freedom of choice to marry a foreigner.

On June 10th, the APPG on Migration published its report of the inquiry ‘Into the New Family Migration Rules’, introduced on July 9th last year. 

The Inquiry received nearly 300 submissions, from affected families, charities, lawyers, businesses and MPs and it urges the Government to review the levels of income required. The report is urging government to review the rules and minimum income threshold for family visas, as well as for adult dependant relatives.

But no one can stop love and our Brits are getting organised. You can read about their experiences on their blog BritCits, you can get information about the rules, campaign and join in if you are affected by the rules.

[h2]In the meantime you can help by signing this petition for the right to family life. [/h2]

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