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NACCOM finds homelessness is a significant problem amongst newly recognised refugees

Date of Publication: 
8 June 2018

Refugees face lack of advice and support and short window of time to find accommodation

NACCOM finds homelessness is a significant problem amongst newly recognised refugees

08 June 2018

The No Accommodation Network (NACCOM), which is a network of organisations working to prevent destitution among refugees and migrants, released a report this week looking at the problems faced by newly recognised refugees in the UK when trying to find housing.

You can read the 24-page report here.

NACCOM found that homelessness amongst newly recognised refugees is a significant problem and it relates directly to government policy.

The report notes that people granted refugee status are given a 28 day 'move-on' period in which they leave asylum support and vacate their government-funded asylum accommodation.

According to NACCOM, finding safe, secure accommodation after leaving asylum support is a daunting task for refugees, made worse by a lack of advice and support and the short window of time to arrange future options.

The report states: "As a result, refugees often face homelessness at the end of the move on period. Of the refugees accessing the Boaz night shelter [in Manchester] this winter, 29% were known to have left their asylum accommodation within the previous 6 months. At C4WS [a night shelter in Camden], this figure was 50%. Research for this report indicated that refugees were coming to shelters as early as one week after leaving their asylum accommodation."

Members of NACCOM provided accommodation for 824 refugees in 2016-17, at least 25% of whom were destitute when they approached the NACCOM member organisation for help.

Overall, the report finds: "Despite positive steps forward in recent months, there are still a significant number of areas around refugee move-on that require urgent attention. Short timeframes for intervention and lack of advice and support for refugees after eviction was the first major concern that this report addressed, followed by issues and delays with benefit payments. The final issue addressed was barriers to housing, with questions raised about accessibility to social, supported and private rental sectors (particularly without support from community groups including those in the NACCOM Network)."

NACCOM recommends that the move-on period should be extended from 28 to 56 days, so that refugees can be assured of greater support to prevent them becoming homeless.

Other recommends made in the report include:

• More advice and support should be offered to refugees to ensure understanding about housing options after leaving asylum accommodation.

• Asylum accommodation providers should be listed as a 'public body with a duty to refer' refugees to Local Housing Authorities under new Homelessness Reduction Act regulations. This will ensure that people receive support within their local connection area.

• Any changes to specialist supported housing should ensure that the rights and opportunities of all vulnerable people- including refugees- are put front and centre. Assurances must also be made that there will be no risk to the delivery and sustainability of services as a result of any changes and refugees should be cited as an eligible group for supported housing, both in the legislation and guidance.

Hazel Williams, NACCOM's national director, told The Independent: "This report shows the shocking reality that people who come here in search of safety and are indeed granted that protection from the UK government are then forced into destitution. The work of our members to prevent this from happening is commendable but should not be necessary.

"The UK government's insistence that refugees need just one month to access benefits and housing, sometimes after years of waiting for a decision without being able to work or access mainstream support, is unrealistic and outdated.

"Against a backdrop of limited social housing, hostile policies towards migrants trying to access private housing, rising street homelessness and delays with Universal Credit, extending it would be a simple, humane response with a lasting impact."

A Home Office spokesman told The Independent: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection. If an asylum seeker is granted refugee status or humanitarian protection they have immediate and unrestricted access to the labour market and many mainstream benefits."