An asylum policy shake-up could rescue refugees from poverty and save the economy between £3-7m, new research showed.
The 28-day move-on period allows people who have successfully applied for asylum just four weeks to transfer from asylum support to mainstream benefits and employment – forcing many into extreme financial trouble and, often, homelessness.
But new reports from British Red Cross and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have argued that at least doubling the move-on period would not just support refugees as they rebuild their lives – but would take enough pressure off the NHS and councils to pay for 315 new nurses.
The Red Cross said Universal Credit has made it “almost inevitable” that refugees will be left without support. Campaigners continue to battle against the benefits system’s damaging five-week wait for payments, which they argue is totally incompatible with the 28 days new refugees have to get themselves on the system.
The charity said that while councils have 56 days to help people at risk of homelessness under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, they only have half that time to help refugees as a result of the Home Office policy. Around 16,000 refugees face destitution and need Red Cross help each year.
Naomi Phillips, director of policy and advocacy at British Red Cross, said: “The design of our current asylum system rips away the safety net of support from people who have fled conflict and persecution, at the moment they need it most to get back on their own feet and start rebuilding their shattered lives.