The British Red Cross has this week welcomed the announcement that, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, the Home Office will immediately halt all evictions from asylum accommodation. This will ensure that nearly 50,000 people are not at threat from losing their accommodation in the coming months.
Since the Government announced measures asking people to take steps to stay away from others and to self-isolate where necessary, the British Red Cross, along with other charities and organisations, has been calling on the Home Office to take urgent steps to bring the asylum system into line with this guidance.
These changes include:
- The suspension of asylum support terminations, including the suspension of evictions from Home Office accommodation in line with Government policy on private and social landlord evictions
- All asylum support applications from people who have applied for asylum or received a negative asylum decision should be granted, and support provided as quickly as possible
- Rapidly increasing suitable contingency accommodation so that people seeking asylum have somewhere safe to be and, if needed, to self-isolate
- The suspension of all healthcare charging to ensure people can access medical support safely and without fear of immigration enforcement
- The removal of barriers to accessing Local Authority support that people face due to their immigration status
Today’s announcement is an important step to ensuring these changes take place.
Responding to the news, Alex Fraser, UK Director of Refugee Support and Restoring Family Links at the British Red Cross, said:
“It’s very welcome news that the Home Office will temporarily halt all evictions from asylum accommodation. Nobody should be at risk of homelessness and destitution, and this is an important first step to ensuring that people are able to protect themselves, their families and their communities.
“As the largest independent provider of support and advice to refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK, we are witnessing the impact that the COVID-19 is having on the asylum system and the people in it. As charities and community groups that traditionally provide vital support to people seeking asylum are having to adjust their services in response to current restrictions, it’s right that the UK Government has taken this decision to safeguard the accommodation of nearly 50,000 people.
“Steps like this are vital to ensuring that everyone has access to secure accommodation, financial support and healthcare at this time. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to secure further changes to make this a reality.”