A person who is destitute is someone who has no access to benefits or income and are either street homeless or without adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it.
There is growing destitution among asylum seekers in the UK, one of the largest groups are refused asylum seekers who are estimated by the London School of Economics to number over 500,000 in 2009. National and local bodies and charities all report growing pconcerns.
In February 2011 Oxfam published it’s bleak report on destitution amongst failed asylum seekers in the UK, concluding that our system neglects them and fails to show compassion. You can download the report Coping_with_destitution.pdf here.
The British Red Cross acknowledged this as a major humanitarian crisis in 2010, the result of current UK policy where hundreds of thousands of refused asylum seekers are denied employment, made homeless, refused healthcare and made to rely on handouts and charity in order to survive. You can download their report Not_gone_but_forgotten.pdf here.
The UK Borders Agency estimate there are 1,500 refused/unsupported Asylum Seekers in Coventry in September 2010. Currently over 16% of CRMC clients between July – September 2010 were destitute, an increase from 13% over the period April – June.
It is increasingly a problem in Coventry and the major reason behind CRMC establishing The Hope Fund – Coventry to help relieve distress. You can read more about the work supported by the Fund in this BBC article click here
The major causes of destitution are:
1) Not yet applied A person wishing to claim asylum but not yet able to do so, e.g. because of difficulty and cost of travelling to an office which accepts asylum claims (only in Croydon or Liverpool) and so is not eligible for asylum support.
2) Awaiting support A person has claimed asylum – and therefore eligible for support, but not yet receiving it because of administrative and processing delays or perhaps because they have failed to comply with requirements.
3) Refused asylum seekers A person has been refused asylum and exhausted all rights of appeal and so is no longer eligible for support, this is the case for 2 out of 3 applications for asylum. Sometimes if they are eligible for support (because they meet the criteria for limited support under Section 4 of the 1999 Act) there are ongoing delays in processing their application. Mostly these are individuals who have no support from the state, no right to work, living illegally and invisibly and with the constant threat of detention and deportation. Most of the destitute people seen by refugee agencies are in this group.
4) Awaiting mainstream benefit support A person has been granted asylum and their asylum support has stopped but they have found it difficult to access mainstream benefits such as Job Seekers Allowance e.g. because of delays in documentation or language difficulties.