Tents of homeless people as seen in park during a heavy snowfall

Urgent government action needed for Christmas

The Local Government Association have warned that thousands of refugees are at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping due to the government’s focus on clearing the asylum application backlog.

According to data from the Home Office, 90,000 decisions on older asylum decisions were expected to be made before the end of December 2023. This has led to large numbers of people relying on councils for support. Another consequence of the pace at which the Home Office is making decisions is that councils are not being told far enough in advance to ensure that plans are put in place to provide suitable support for those leaving accommodation.

The consequence of this is that many more people are at risk of being left homeless and rough sleeping over the Christmas period, especially as homelessness is already increasing.

Homeless refugee LGA quote

With the significant financial pressures that councils are already under, as well as the shortage of temporary accommodation the Local Government has raised a number of issues with the Minister of Immigration but – at the time of writing - has not yet received a response. With this in mind, the LGA is asking the government for the following measures, on behalf of councils:

  • Minimising the risks of destitution, overcrowding and street homelessness through giving councils urgent funding to establish local support.
  • Ensuring that people are given the full 28 days’ notice that they are promised before being required to leave Home Office accommodation.
  • Helping with local planning by sharing information relating to how many cases each local authority will have to support.
  • Reducing the risk of street homelessness by pausing asylum support cessations over the Christmas week, as well as during extreme weather.
  • Urgently uprating the rate of Local Housing Allowance that establishes the subsidy that is available for temporary accommodation, as this is currently still capped at 90% of 2011 rates.
  • Committing future resources for council support as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement, helping those who are waiting for claim decisions.

Chair of the Local Government Association, Cllr Shaun Davies, said:

“Councils work incredibly hard to support asylum and resettlement but are facing a perfect storm in the run-up to Christmas which could see tens of thousands of refugees having to sleep rough.

“Demand for temporary accommodation is already at an all-time high with councils struggling to source suitable accommodation and cater for current needs. Pushing tens of thousands of refugees out of Home Office accommodation onto councils will overload the system and mean they simply cannot provide for these vulnerable people’s needs.

“The Government must provide councils with more funding both immediately for this programme and in the future for their ongoing support for refugees. Asylum seekers need as much notice as possible before they have to leave their accommodation, so they have time to work and find a new place to live.”

 

Image credit: iStock

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