UK

Home Office Faces Legal Challenge Over Asylum Seeker Payments During Covid

London: The Home Office is still failing to provide thousands of asylum seekers in emergency hotel accommodation with basic cash support and essentials more than a month after being instructed by the high court to fulfil their legal requirements to do so. In October, law firm Duncan Lewis challenged the government’s failure to provide adequate asylum support in the high court. The judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, said asylum seekers in emergency accommodation should have been receiving financial support during the pandemic, and ordered the department to increase weekly cash assistance from £5 to £8 to cover essentials, such as soap, medicine, bus fares and phone credit.

Following the ruling, immigration minister Chris Philp said payments of £3 a week for clothing should be backdated to March, and payments of £4.70 a week for travel should be backdated to July. Yet Duncan Lewis says that so far the Home Office has failed to provide support in line with this concession, or to backdate payments, and are preparing to issue further urgent proceedings against the department this week. “It has been a month since the Home Office announced the decision, and none of our clients have received the increase in cash support and no arrangements have been put in place to obtain back payments,” said Primisha Chudasama, a solicitor for Duncan Lewis. “Many clients have faced a significant deterioration in their mental health and sense of self-worth, particularly as they are constantly worrying about how they are going to meet their essential living needs,” she said. “Often, clients have had to choose between phone credit and buying warm clothing for the winter months, or using public transport to attend important appointments.”

Duncan Lewis says one of their clients, an asylum seeker living in accommodation run by Serco, was subjected to verbal abuse when he asked for the full £8 support.

Read more: Nicloa Kelly, Guardian, https://is.gd/1JlEYO

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