The 28-Day Move-On Period - Making Refugees Homeless

Integration of Refugees - Fifth Edition of the Averroes Academy
Eva Jonsson
United Kingdom

Being granted Refugee status should be a happy day, however in the UK this often lead to further trouble and traumatisation. On the very same day refugee status is approved they will receive an eviction letter stating that all funds and housing support will be completely cut 28 days from the date of the letter. Asylum seekers come alone to the UK without any savings, they are not allowed to work whilst waiting for a decision and often speak very little English. To add to their troubles the accommodation system in the UK relies on advance payments, one month rent and five weeks rent worth of security deposit to be paid upfront. Whilst asylum seekers are not entitled to the UK’s benefit system refugees are fully entitled however the application takes a minimum of five weeks to pay out if you have the required evidence and sufficient English language skills to navigate the benefit system. 

In reality this means many refugees end up as street homeless, rough sleepers, with little chance of integrating and returning to society. To apply for benefits you need to have a bank account and an address, to open a bank account you need to have ID and proof of address, to have an address you need to have funds, proof of address and an ID. The UK system is reliant on having an address to be able to register with banks, doctors and the benefit system, this creates a vicious circle as you can’t have one without the other, so once you have ended up on the street it is even harder to return to society. This further adds to the problems as many faced with sleeping on the street use negative coping strategies such as drinking, taking drugs and/or stealing.

Increasing the Move-On Period to a minimum of 60 days, longer when necessary, and continuing with the asylum support payments during this period as well as creating a grant fund for housing deposits would eliminate the homelessness risks for most refugees. Other required changes include better information sharing and training between the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, DWP, as currently refugees are treated differently by different DWP case workers. A House of Commons Select Committee Inquiry to hold banks to account and ensure access to bank accounts for refugees as currently banks refuse to acknowledge Biometric ID cards as proof of ID and are too selective in what they accepted as proof of address, the advice also differs from branch to branch. Refugees must be able to use NASS accommodation to establish local connection with councils, to be included in the Duty to Refer. The NASS accommodation providers must prepare asylum seekers for life as a refugee with access to housing and benefit advice. The Move-On Period need to be added as an official category in homelessness statistic counts. 

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