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Home Secretary acted unlawfully in treatment of asylum seekers

April 11, 2014 10:57 PM
By frank

Sarah Teather has welcomed the ruling that Home Secretary Theresa May acted unlawfully when setting financial support provided to individuals and families seeking asylum in the UK.

Sarah, who is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, has urged the Home Secretary to urgently respond to the ruling to ensure that people fleeing violence and persecution are not forced to live in poverty and isolation.

The ruling comes as a result of a challenge to the decision taken by the Home Secretary in June 2013 to freeze the level of support provided to asylum seekers. That decision meant that asylum support rates had been frozen since April 2011.

Last year, a cross-party panel of Parliamentarians, chaired by Sarah Teather and supported by The Children's Society, found that families are often living on £5 per person per day, leaving 10,000 children destitute or in severe poverty. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that since the rates were last increased, prices have risen by over 7%.

The legal challenge was brought by Refugee Action, who argued that the rates of support were not enough meet essential living needs and that the Home Secretary had failed to properly consider all the relevant costs faced by asylum seekers.

In handing down the judgment, The Hon. Mr Justice Popplewell said that the Home Secreary "failed to take reasonable steps to gather sufficient information to enable her to make a rational judgment in setting the asylum support rates for 2013/2014."

Mr Justice Popplewell went on to state that the Home Secretary had acted irrationally in failing to take into account the extent of the decrease in asylum support rates in real terms since 2007 and the freezing of rates in absolute terms since 2011.

Last year, a cross-party panel of Parliamentarians, chaired by Sarah Teather and supported by The Children's Society, found that families are often living on £5 per person per day, leaving 10,000 children destitute or in severe poverty. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that since the rates were last increased, prices have risen by over 7%.

Commenting on the ruling, Sarah Teather said:

"This is a welcome ruling that reflects the experiences of thousands of individuals and families who come to the UK after fleeing violence and persecution. Current levels of support are forcing people into poverty, yet when presented with evidence of this, the Home Office has repeatedly failed to act.

"It is now vital that the Home Secretary responds positively to today's judgment. I urge her to immediately carry out a full, transparent inquiry into the way support rates are set to ensure that those people seeking asylum are able to do so in dignity."



http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2014/1033.html

http://www.refugee-action.org.uk/assets/0000/9753/Refugee_Action_Judgment_Summary_FINAL.pdf

The report published by the cross-panel of Parliamentarians can be found here: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/asylum_support_inquiry_report_final.pdf