Last week it emerged that a child had starved to death in March 2010 while living in temporary accommodation in Westminster. The child’s family has been granted asylum in the UK but due to a lack of transitional support were not receiving any money as they waited to be transferred from the Home Office to mainstream welfare support services.
The family were forced to become dependent on ‘ad hoc’ charitable handouts and Westminster Council were not allowed to offer official support unless the family of three actually became homeless.
After a serious case review child safety experts at Westminster wrote to the government urging them to review and improve transitional support for successful asylum applicants. But charities that support Asylum seekers say that support arrangements have actually got worse since the letter was sent. For example they highlight that The Home Office axed its funding for the Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES), which provide for transitional financial support for successful asylum seekers, last September.
Daoud Zaaroura, Chief Executive of the North of England Refugee Service, said the issues raised in Westminster’s letter were unresolved:
‘Without RIES, or something similar, there is a real threat of this tragic case happening all over again… Even when we had funding for RIES, it would take our staff up to two months to secure all of the benefit entitlements for some families.’