Last autumn as the Government sought to clear the backlog of asylum applications made before the 28 June 2022, refugee charities warned that without proper housing provisions in place, thousands of people with newly granted refugee status would be at risk of homelessness when evicted from their Home Office accommodation.
When a person is granted refugee status, they are typically given 28 days - known as a ‘move on’ period – in which to apply for Universal Credit, secure employment and find housing. At the end of this 28-day period, a person is evicted from their Home Office accommodation.
The Boaz Trust, alongside other refugee organisations, have long argued that 28 days is not nearly enough time for a person to find housing and employment, or complete administrative necessities such as opening a UK bank account. With the UK in the midst of a housing crisis, it is near impossible for the people we support to access either social housing or private rented accommodation.
While any reduction in numbers of people waiting for their asylum claim to be determined should be welcomed, it is irresponsible of this Government to put additional pressure on local authorities to find suitable accommodation without any central government investment to do so.
In 2023 we saw a 102% increase at Boaz in the number of referrals for accommodation for people with refugee status, with a doubling of referrals in the second half of last year. Increasingly we are seeing people who have been made street homeless after receiving a positive asylum decision, including Mariam* and Helen* (now accommodated by Boaz), who shared their stories in the Guardian recently.
“I know a lot of people suffering with homelessness and it is particularly difficult and dangerous for women to have to sleep on the streets. This house is the best place. It is quiet and secure and nobody can disturb us here.” - Mariam*
We stand with Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit who have recently called for the Home Office to:
- stop intentionally evicting newly recognised refugees from their current accommodation without any reasonable chance to being able to find suitable alternative accommodation;
- increase the 28-day move on period to 56 days, reflecting the actual reality of the time it takes to set up a bank account, apply for Universal Credit, secure housing and look for employment opportunities;
- listen to the experiences of people who have gone through the UK asylum system and speak with first-hand experience of the detrimental impact of homelessness;
- work with local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to understand the local housing landscape and how decisions made without consideration for local authorities and charities have a devastating impact on people’s lives;
- provide localised financial support to address the increasing numbers of homeless people with refugee status;
- stop fuelling division between different groups of people who are experiencing housing injustice. The rhetoric of division is one that this government uses only too well and is a way of diverting attention away from their failings as a government to ensure safe, suitable housing for all who require it.