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Asylum Support Rates: Home Office Defiant Despite High Court Ruling

Despite a ruling from the High Court ordering the Government to review the asylum support rates, it has been announced by the Home Office that there will be no increase.

In a recent case, Refugee Action, R v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWHC 1033 (Admin), the High Court held that a rational judgment could not have been made by the Home Secretary in setting the asylum support rates, because no reasonable steps to gather sufficient information to make the decision had been taken.

In making it’s judgment, the Court said the Home Secretary had been “irrational” and used “misunderstood information” in it’s decision to freeze the current rate at just £5.23 a day, which, the Home Office maintains, is a sufficient amount to enable people to meet their essential living expenses.

In calculating the figure, the spending habits of the poorest 10 per cent of the UK’s population was halved, to set the benchmark of the amount required by a person seeking asylum. In doing so, the Home Office allows no more than £1.08 per week for toiletries, £2.51 per week for clothes and footwear and £3.00 for bus and train fares.

Speaking on the matter, Lisa Doyle, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council said: “This is a shocking decision which will only serve to ensure that asylum seekers are trapped in poverty.  We are extremely alarmed that the Government looked at the evidence and then concluded that it’s happy with people being forced into a situation where they struggle to eat or get the medication they need.”

Adding to the debate, The Chief Executive of Refugee Action, Dave Garratt said: “We are appalled by this decision. It will have a devastating impact on the dignity and wellbeing of thousands of individuals and families in our government’s care. Refugee Action refuses to accept that this is a rational response to the judge’s ruling”.

Mr Garratt added: “The evidence presented in the review doesn’t tally up with real-life experiences of people seeking safety in the UK. Every day at Refugee Action we support people who, having been forced to flee their home in fear of their life, are now cut off from society and unable to pursue their asylum case adequately due to these unreasonable and outrageously low levels of support”.

Refugee Action have stated that they are considering taking this matter further.

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