Thousands of people in Glasgow and across the UK face potential homelessness and destitution after a change of practice from the Home Office and its accommodation providers.
Action to speed up long-delayed asylum applications is leading to an increased number of people receiving decisions about their right to safety. While this in itself is welcome, the Home Office is at the same time giving some people just seven days to move out of their asylum support accommodation, with no other housing or financial support in place.
Previously, people had up to twenty eight days to prepare to leave their asylum accommodation and find somewhere new to live. We know from experience that even then, it was an extremely stressful and pressured four weeks for people to find a new place to live, relocate and switch to a whole new system of rights and benefits. It was very tough to achieve this in twenty eight days. It is virtually impossible to do so in seven days.
Our Head of Asylum, Wafa Shaheen said: “We’ve seen the number of people coming to us for support double over the last month. But there is no doubling in the number of flats or houses available for people. There is a sense of panic and disbelief that people are expected to find somewhere new to live within such a short timescale. It’s unrealistic, unreasonable and almost designed to set people up to fail, particularly in the middle of a chronic housing shortage and cost of living crisis.”
While some people we work with are receiving seven-day notices to quit their accommodation, others are receiving twenty-one and twenty-eight day notices, adding to the confusion.
Earlier this month we joined 140 organisations in a letter to the Home Secretary, urging the government to abandon the policy.
Key recommendations include:
- Commit to immediately reverse the changes so all refugees have a minimum of 28 days before they’re required to leave their accommodation.
- Ensure that refugees receive all their documentation before the 28-day notice period begins, in line with recent Home Office policy.
- Issue clear guidance to local authorities that a newly recognised refugee is at risk of homelessness once they receive notification of the decision on their asylum claim, and are eligible for homelessness prevention support from that time without the need for evidence such as an eviction letter.
- Stagger the 7-day notices that people are now receiving and work with statutory services and civil society organisations to manage the increase in demand for support.
- Commit to working towards extending the move-on period to at least 56 days, in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act and the application for Universal Credit.
We are also working with accommodation providers, Glasgow City Council and other partners to try to urgently find housing for people in need.
If you are concerned about accommodation or any other issue relating to your asylum claim, please call our free helpline for info and advice: 0808 196 7274