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Woeful asylum support pushing families into severe poverty, says inquiry

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Woeful asylum support pushing families into severe poverty, says inquiry

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Health

Failed refugee charity 'unable to manage its affairs' Failed refugee charity 'unable to manage its affairs'

Low levels of support are forcing thousands of asylum-seeking families in the UK into severe poverty, a cross-party parliamentary inquiry will reveal today.

The inquiry, led by former children’s minister Sarah Teather MP, will launch its report into how asylum-seeking children and families are supported by the Home Office.

The panel, which is being supported by The Children’s Society, found widespread examples of families on levels of support far below mainstream benefits, leaving them barely able to put food on the table or buy a winter coat.

It was discovered that those on the lowest rate of support only receive their allowance on a card, meaning they get no cash, effectively leaving them stranded - unable even to take the bus to the doctor's or take their children to school.

The inquiry also heard how children and families are being forced to live in cramped, crowded, dirty and unsafe accommodation in areas where they are subjected to racial abuse.

Evidence revealed how some families do not have any privacy, with housing providers entering their homes unannounced, leaving single mothers with children feeling vulnerable and frightened.

Families said they were frequently moved with no consideration for their needs – often at short notice – wrenching children from school and breaking links with vital support networks.

Sarah Teather MP said: "Woeful levels of support for asylum seekers are pushing children into severe poverty and are far below what they need to have a decent life. The evidence we have heard is shocking and appalling. It is an affront to this country’s proud tradition of giving sanctuary to those fleeing danger and violence.

"We have to ask ourselves, what sort of country do we want to be? One that protects vulnerable children, or one that allows them to go destitute, scared and hungry?"

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: "Thousands of children and families are being abandoned and literally left destitute because the system is failing them. Children and their families are being forced to live in appalling conditions that are unacceptable by anybody’s standards. No child, no matter who they are or where they’re from, should be treated with such a complete lack of human dignity."

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