What is Destitution?
Destitution is defined under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. A person is destitute if –
(a)he does not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not his other essential living needs are met); or
(b)he has adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it, but cannot meet his other essential living needs.
Destitution – An Animation About Our Work
Why do asylum seekers and refugees end up destitute?
Unfortunately, the asylum process in the UK is complex and inaccessible and there are many aspects of the current system put asylum seekers in Scotland at risk of destitution. For example:
- Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and receive only Home Office asylum support (about 70% of mainstream benefits), which is often delayed by bureaucracy.
- Asylum applications and all documentation have to be submitted in person in England, for which many asylum seekers cannot afford travel.
- Once granted refugee status there is a 28 day period before support stops and mainstream benefits apply, but bureaucratic delays mean that refugees are often left without financial support for weeks or months
What does the Refugee Survival Trust do to help?
We have three current programmes to support destitute asylum seekers:
- The Destitute Asylum Seeker Service, a comprehensive partnership project helping to support routes out of long term destitution
- Destitution Grants, small one-off emergency payments to asylum seekers and refugees who do not receive support from the government or other sources
- One day bus passes, that allow individuals to attend important meetings, go to the food bank or meet with friends.
- Bump or Baby bus passes – ten week bus passes for asylum seeker women who are heavily pregnant or have recently given birth.