Social Justice

Councils plead for 'urgent' help to deal with surge in refugees evicted into homelessness

Councils are complaining that, once evicted, refugees don’t have enough notice before they have to leave Home Office accommodation

Protesters in Glasgow have also been calling for an end to the evictions. Image: Living Rent

Councils across England have asked for urgent financial support to deal with a wave of refugee evictions and homelessness.

Thousands could find themselves on the streets without urgent intervention, warned the Local Government Association (LGA), the membership body for England’s councils

It comes as The Big Issue reveals 1,500 refugees have already been made homeless between August, when the Home Office made changes to its handling of evictions, and October.

“Pushing tens of thousands of refugees out of Home Office accommodation onto councils will overload the system and mean they simply cannot provide for these vulnerable people’s needs,” said councillor Shaun Davies, chair of the LGA. 

“The government must provide councils with more funding both immediately for this programme and in the future for their ongoing support for refugees, alongside better data, to help councils protect and provide for refugees.”

The Big Issue has been investigating the impact and extent of the refugee homelessness crisis. Read more of our reporting here:

A wave of decisions, from government plans to clear the asylum backlog, is resulting in vast numbers of asylum seekers being told to leave their accommodation.

Councils are also complaining that, once evicted, refugees don’t have enough notice before they have to leave Home Office accommodation. The Home Office says asylum seekers are given 28 days notice once they are notified of their claim, but in practice stricter application of rules from August means many are finding themselves with just a week to secure accommodation

Along with a request for urgent funding, the LGA called for a pause in asylum evictions over Christmas, and an increase in benefit caps relating to temporary accommodation

The councils blame a chronic shortage of housing and say they are not receiving extra funding to deal with the increase. Glasgow City Council has warned the crisis could cost it £53.4m.

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As demand soars, local authorities are becoming unable to cope. In one case, reported by The Big Issue, one refugee was made homeless when he was evicted from his accommodation after being given the wrong advice by a council.

The appeal from the LGA is part of increasing calls for support and an end to the evictions

Andy Burnham last week told The Big Issue that giving £5m to Greater Manchester would help the region reduce homelessness resulting from Home Office decisions. Glasgow Council has called on the government to pause the “unconscionable” process.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring asylum claims are considered without unnecessary delays.

“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. 

“Support is offered to newly recognised refugees by Migrant Help and their partners, which includes advice on how to access the universal credit, the labour market and where to get assistance with housing. 

“We work with local authorities to help communities manage the impact of asylum decisions.”

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