Refugees and those seeking asylum are people recognised in international law as having fled from violence or persecution, in many cases from the world’s worst conflicts. In the past year, people seeking help from SRS have come from more than twenty countries. Of course, many at the moment are fleeing the violence across the Middle East.
People seeking asylum make up less than 4 percent of Britain’s net immigration numbers and a tiny fraction of the UK’s total population. This is separate from the 20,000 Syrian refugees whom the Government has agreed to resettle in the UK between 2015 and 2020.
Britain’s asylum system is very tough. Asylum seekers do not get a large handout from the state. They cannot claim normal UK benefits and they are in most cases not allowed to work. The small subsistence payment they get from the Home Office is as little as £5 a day.
Refugees invariably want to work as soon as their refugee status is granted. Many have professional skills and qualifications and go on to make big contributions to the British economy. The positive impact made in Britain by refugees and their descendants over decades is incalculable.
But even when their right to asylum is established and they are first granted ‘leave to remain’, refugees typically face big obstacles in sustaining themselves and their families. Destitution is increasingly common when the asylum benefits are cut off before refugees have been able to access mainstream benefits or employment.