Britain is one of the worst destinations for asylum seekers in western Europe

TMP – 10/03/2017

Britain is one of the worst destinations for asylum seekers in western Europe, according to an analysis by The Guardian newspaper of the conditions faced by new migrant arrivals.

The analysis found that when compared to Germany, Spain, France and Italy, fewer refugees make it to Britain and asylum grants for those few who make it are very low. Asylum seekers cannot work as they wait for their asylum decisions, and those granted asylum routinely find themselves starving and homeless.

The average grant rate in Europe is between 63 to 65% according to Alex Fraser, director of refugee support at the British Red Cross. However, the UK has the lowest approval rates for asylum seeker claims of the five countries and the rate was as low as 28% in the third quarter of 2016.

Financial support for asylum seekers in the UK is also much lower than in Spain, France and Germany, with poor quality of the accommodation provided to asylum seekers. A recent home affairs select committee report into asylum housing in the UK said the quality of accommodation provided to asylum seekers was “disgraceful” and cited cases of mice, rats and bed bugs.

Britain is also the only country out of the five examined that does not set a maximum time limit for holding asylum seekers in detention facilities and the only country that does not allow unaccompanied children who arrive and claim asylum the right to apply to be reunited with their parents.

If they are granted refugee status, asylum seekers in Britain stop receiving the support they were getting while waiting to hear the decision on their case. They must apply to receive benefits and have 28 days to leave the accommodation provided to them. However, because of the bureaucratic difficulties in applying, very few refugees are able to register for benefits in this period. Many of those who are granted asylum consequently become homeless and have to go to food banks and charities for food.

Finally, asylum seekers in Britain cannot apply for paid jobs unless they have been waiting to hear about their asylum claim for more than 12 months. Even after waiting for more than a year, they are only allowed to work in occupations featured on the government’s “shortage occupations” list, which favours educated professionals.