Last week, The Forum submitted our evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry on asylum support for children and family. The Inquiry is chaired by Sara Teather MP, supported by the Children’s Society, and consists of a panel of other MPs and experts.
This Inquiry is long over due. The Forum has been supporting asylum seekers for almost 20 years and we know from our experience of supporting young people and families that the current support system is not adequate.
[h5]Here are the main points:[/h5]
– £35 a week is simply not enough to buy food and other essentials like clothing, or communication (topping up mobiles to call solicitors)-Transportation is not considered an ‘essential need’ which forces asylum seekers into isolation
-Mental health is often overlooked by social workers working with unaccompanied young asylum seekers
-Maternity payments for parents seeking asylum is currently at £3 more per week while pregnant, £5 more per week once the baby is born until age one, and £3 per week until the baby is three years old. Anyone who has children knows that it is impossible to provide for a baby on this meagre additional payment.
-UKBA ‘Integration Loans’ are not fit for purpose. £500 is not sufficient to cover a housing deposit in London, let alone fill an empty flat with the things necessary to live.
Taken as a whole, the asylum support for children and families severely impacts the development and opportunities for young people in their future. They are made vulnerable by a system that forces already vulnerable families into destitute-like conditions and not allowed to work. One unaccompanied 17 year old boy was left in a flat without electricity or heat for almost a month. We also have examples of flats that are provided completely bare with no bed, no cooker, no cutlery.
We call on the Inquiry to review the overwhelming evidence of the failure of the current UK asylum support system and to recommend a complete overhaul with the goal of providing meaningful support for individuals fleeing persecution. We need a support system of which we can be proud so that someday we can truly call London a city of sanctuary.