Asylum seekers are people who are fleeing persecution, and have come to the UK, and asked the British Government to give them Refugee status. The Home Office is responsible for considering such requests, and will make a decision, either to grant or refuse Refugee status. People who are given Refugee status have the right to live and work in the UK, and are entitled to the same benefits and services as UK citizens, including the right to present to their local authority as homeless. People who are refused asylum have the right to appeal against the decision. People who have appealed against a negative decision continue to be classed as asylum seekers until their appeal is considered. If all appeal rights are exhausted, and Refugee status is still refused, people are classed as refused asylum seekers, and they no longer have the right to stay in the country, have no right to work, and no right to means tested benefits and housing and homelessness services. The Home Office expects them to return to their home countries, and may either help them to return, or in some cases forcibly remove them.
Asylum seekers who would otherwise have nowhere to live and no money to support themselves may apply to the Home Office for support, in which case they will be given a weekly allowance, and provided with somewhere to live on a “no choice” basis. Approximately 25% of asylum seekers who are accommodated by the Home Office live in North West England. Asylum accommodation in this region is provided by a private company, Serco, under contract to the Home Office.
The RSMP works with local authorities, the Home Office and Serco to make sure that the arrangements between Serco and local authorities for agreeing which property can be used for asylum are working well. We also encourage local authorities to allow asylum seekers to live in their areas, in order to ensure that the distribution of asylum seekers between each borough is as fair as possible. We provide information and statistics to help local authorities to plan and deliver services to asylum seekers and refugees in their areas. We help local authorities who are new to asylum to build the capacity they need to achieve this. We also work with local authorities and Serco to make sure that the transition from asylum seeker to refugee is as smooth as possible, so that all parties can play their part in a timely way to avoid any hardship and distress.
We understand that the voluntary and community sector plays a valuable role in providing support to asylum seekers and refugees that falls outside of the contractual and funding arrangements. We encourage Serco and local authorities to work in partnership with the third sector in order to meet the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.
We also help local authorities, by providing training, and facilitating discussion, to recognise and discharge any duties they may have under social care legislation to help refused asylum seekers and other undocumented migrants.