Children's Society calls for raised benefits for asylum children

08 August 2014

SHUTTERSTOCK

MORE than 10,000 children of asylum-seekers in the UK are being pushed into poverty by what the Children's Society calls "alarmingly" low levels of state support.

It says that a decision by the Government in April 2011 to freeze financial assistance means that their families have suffered a 7.5-per-cent cut in real terms caused by the rising price of basic necessities such as food and clothing. Some families are now living on little more than a third of the amount they would need just to escape poverty.

Last April, the High Court ruled that the Home Secretary had acted unlawfully when deciding the level of payments, and gave the Government until tomorrow (9 August) to reassess rates so that they met the essential living needs of asylum-seeking families.

This week, the Children's Society called on the Government to increase asylum-support rates to at least 70 per cent of mainstream benefits, and to increase them annually in line with inflation.

The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed, said: "Many are unable even to afford the most basic necessities for their children. The Government has a chance to change this and make sure that all refugee children have what they need for a decent start in life. It is critical that the Government does not miss this opportunity."

The Society said that financial support for families seeking asylum in the UK can be as little as half that given to those on mainstream benefits, and most were not allowed to work. It called on the Government to make sure that 16- and 17-year-olds were treated within the asylum-support system in the same way as all other children under 18.

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