Benefits from the state and destitution

Unheard Voices has teamed up with a number of leading asylum and migration organisations to find the answers to frequently asked questions about asylum, refugees and the immigration system in the UK and the world. 

Can asylum seekers claim benefits from the state?

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work, except in very rare circumstances. Asylum seekers who have not yet had a decision on their claim generally receive accommodation and financial support set at about two-thirds the level of income support if, otherwise, they would be destitute (Section 95 support).

In 2011, a single adult in this situation would receive £36.62 per week. This support is normally terminated soon after a decision (positive or negative) is made on the claim. In the second quarter of 2011 there were 20,855 people (excluding dependants) receiving Section 95 support.

Refused asylum seekers who are destitute can apply for ‘Section 4 support’. The criteria for Section 4 support is very strict and includes taking steps to ‘voluntarily’ leave the country and having permission to proceed with a judicial review of the asylum decision.

In 2011, people on Section 4 support received accommodation and a payment card valued at £35.39 per week. In the second quarter of 2011 there were 2,461 people (excluding dependants) receiving Section 4 support.

Why are some asylum seekers homeless?

Many asylum seekers experience destitution. Some do so because of administrative errors relating to the receipt of support; but the vast majority do so as a result of the withdrawal of support after a claim for asylum has been refused. There are no accurate statistics on the number of destitute asylum seekers in the UK. But in 2007 it was estimated that there could be over 500,000 refused asylum seekers in the UK.

Information from Asylum Statistics, Institute of Race Relations

Find out more about why asylum seekers come to the UK and what countries have the most asylum seekers and refugees here

About The Author

Multimedia Web Journalist

I am a Multimedia Web Journalist, enthusiastic rock climber, lover of nature and all things cultural. My particular interest is human rights and community issues. I also write for the Guardian, Guardian Northerner and Culture Vulture website.

Number of Entries : 39

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