Insights into the pandemic experience of Destitute Refused Asylum Seekers and the New Plan for Immigration

August 22, 2022
Data Hub
Data Hub Team
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Data Hub Team

In our 10th Information and Data Hub survey, we explore the impact of the pandemic on refused asylum seekers who are destitute or waiting for support and responses to the ‘New Plan for Immigration’. This bulletin presents data collected from 40 organisations working with people in the immigration system across the UK.

Client Needs and Barriers

The top three areas of client need: 

  1. Housing (56%) remains the highest area of need, as across Surveys 8 and 9, with homelessness or risk of homelessness as the most common issue. 
  2. Mental health (49%) has remained second highest need areas, as in Survey 9
  3. Basic subsistence needs, also at 49%, has increased by 28% since Survey 9.

The top three barriers to support for clients:

  1. Mental health issues including depression and anxiety (79%)
  2. Language and communication difficulties exacerbated by remote delivery, also at 79%
  3. Inability to access emotional support or meaningful activities in their community due to social distancing (77%)

Organisational Needs and Funding

The main organisational challenges reported: 

  • Lack of physical space to adapt services/relocation issues (46%)
  • Insufficient management time/capacity for service adaptation (41%)
  • Lack of staff/volunteers to meet increased client need at (38%) 
  • And insufficient, inflexible or insecure funding also at 38% (15).

Specific organisational funding issues reported: 

  • Lack of staff capacity to engage in fundraising (62%)
  • Funding gaps for key staff roles impacting project sustainability  (49%) 
  • Lack of available funding opportunities (35%)

The impact of the pandemic on refused asylum seekers who are destitute or waiting for support 

In this largely qualitative section, respondents discussed the impact of the pandemic on destitute refused asylum seekers with regards to accommodation, basic support and Covid-19 risk. 

  • The overall picture shows heightened instability of accommodation options for this client group. Staying with family and friends has become less reliable and less safe and it has also been more difficult for organisations to find accommodation in hosting schemes.  
  • There has been increased access to emergency accommodation provided by the Local Authority and the Home Office. However, in some cases this has been inadequate and inappropriate and respondents expressed concern about when this temporary accommodation comes to end.
  • 61% of respondents told us that clients in this group had experienced reduced access to usual sources of support. 
  • 61% said they consider people in this client group at ‘high risk’ of contracting and transmitting Covid-19. 
“During the pandemic, the destitute and refused asylum seeker groups were confused and not sure what support and services were available to them and how to go about them. Digital poverty contributed to this lack of awareness and ability to make phone calls for support.” 

Responses to the ‘New Plan for Immigration’

  • 85% of organisations have read the proposals outlined in the New Plan for Immigration.
  • We asked for respondents’ opinions on 6 key changes proposed by the Government in the New Plan (see Appendix 1 of the bulletin). All of these changes were strongly opposed by a majority (70%-98%) of respondents. Some specific reasons for this opposition are cited in the bulletin.
  • 75% of organisations told us they will be responding to the consultation on the proposed changes and 10% told us they lack the time or capacity to respond before the deadline (6th May).

Several organisations shared serious concerns about the consultation process, highlighting its lack of clarity, use of language and tone and exclusion of specific groups. One respondent claimed the consultation 'is a thinly veiled PR exercise with a predetermined outcome'.

“We are deeply concerned about the tone of the proposals, the direction it is taking our country and the use of discriminating, divisive language about how people enter the UK and 'criminality' issues.”

Read and download the full Bulletin for more detailed findings.

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To request the raw data, please email Helen Barley.

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Full Bulletin

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