Social Justice

Home Office's asylum accommodation policy 'creates problems', admits Michael Gove

Refugees are often being granted just seven days to find a new home after eviction from asylum accommodation

michael gove

Gove also said the Home Office is 'shunting' the cost of hotel closures onto local government. Image: Parliament TV

Michael Gove has admitted seven-day asylum evictions are “tight and tough’ and “create particular problems”.

The Home Office is also “shunting” the cost of closing asylum hotels onto councils, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities said, amid warnings that thousands of refugees will be pushed onto the streets without urgent financial support.

An effective reduction in the move-on period, coupled with the drive to clear the legacy asylum backlog, has resulted in vast numbers of refugees becoming homeless.

“I do think that seven [days] is tight and tough,” Gove told parliament’s Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee, but did not commit to pushing for newly-recognised refugees to be granted 56 days – a period in line with other homelessness laws.

“It was the case that 28 days was assumed to be good practice, but I agree that seven days is something local government has told me does create particular problems.”

Once asylum claims are granted, newly-recognised refugees are granted a 28-day ‘move on’ period. But a change made in August has meant many are being afforded a minimum of seven days after receiving vital paperwork.

This has led to widespread complaints from councils and frontline charities that refugees are not being given enough time to avoid homelessness. 

Joanna Key, a director general at the department, said councils had been complaining that 28 days was not being afforded.

A pause in evictions during cold weather – revealed by The Big Issue – was initiated at the “behest“ of Gove, Key also revealed.

A Big Issue investigation found that the number of refugees evicted into homelessness tripled after the change was made.

Michael Gove’s comments fly in the face of Home Office insistences that refugees are being given enough time to avoid homelessness.

He added that he had been looking “in detail” at financial support for councils as they dealt with the impact of shutting down asylum hotels.

“It’s a cost reduction overall, but a cost shunt, and we want to make sure that is fairly reflected, and conversations are ongoing,” said Gove.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We work with local authorities to manage the impact of asylum decisions.

“Once someone is informed that their asylum claim has been granted, they get at least 28 days’ notice to move on from their asylum accommodation.

“We encourage individuals to make their onward plans as soon as possible after receiving their decision on their asylum claim, whether that is leaving the UK following a refusal, or taking steps to integrate in the UK following a grant.”

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