Tai Pawb welcomes publication of refused asylum seekers report
Welsh Government has published the findings of a study into providing accommodation for refused asylum seekers in Wales.
Written by asylum and housing experts, Heather Petch and Tamsin Stirling, the study details nine recommendations for Welsh Government to take forward, underpinned by its existing Nation of Sanctuary Plan (NoS). Among the recommendations is the further promotion and awareness-raising of the NoS Plan, the establishment of shared housing for both refused asylum seekers and refugees and ensuring access to emergency accommodation options and referral routes out of destitution. Moreover, the report calls for Welsh Government to influence Home Office policy to alleviate the destitution of refused asylum seekers who are refused any recourse to public funds.
Refused asylum seekers in the UK are not eligible for support, rendering many completely destitute, often homeless and with few places to turn for help.
Since the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, Welsh Government has encouraged local authorities in Wales to use emergency powers to support refused asylum seekers into accommodation. However, as lockdown restrictions and public health emergency gradually ease, those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) face the cliff-edge prospect of homelessness. Tai Pawb has worked closely with partners in calling for a universal safety net, ensuring that those with NRPF are offered sustainable accommodation options.
Tai Pawb fed into the report as part of its Sounding Board alongside others in the housing and homelessness sectors, highlighting its 2019 study on Refugee Housing and Support and in particular calling for the development of further shared housing options for refused asylum seekers and refugees in Wales, based on existing models elsewhere.
Issuing Welsh Government’s response to the report’s findings, Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip confirmed that it intended to “implement each of these recommendations”. She further commented that the approach outlined in the study “recognises our common humanity and seeks to provide dignity and protection from exploitation for those who have been refused asylum”.
The report highlights the context of the Coronavirus pandemic on public finances, noting that “should there be a need to prioritise between the nine recommendations, our view is that Recommendations 1 and 2 on awareness raising and developing hosting should be taken forward as a priority. However, in this context, we would not wish to see potential interest from housing associations to donate properties rent-free lost, but appreciate that a fully-fledged development project may not be feasible immediately.
Director of Tai Pawb, Alicja Zalesinska, said:
Tai Pawb was pleased to contribute to the report and welcomes its publication today.
“Housing is recognised as a fundamental element of support in Welsh Government’s Nation of Sanctuary Plan and so it is only right that we look to put in place the appropriate support for those with no recourse to public funds. Too many refused asylum seekers have found themselves completely destitute with little or no support.
“In light of the public health crisis easing gradually, the publication of this report is hugely timely and is a reminder of the need to act as quickly as possible to ensure refused asylum seekers do not face the prospect of homelessness in the short to medium term.
“We also encourage Welsh Government to consider how it might fully support the report’s other recommendations as awareness-raising and building hosting capacity will not on its own solve the problem in the long term.”
R1: Promote the Nation of Sanctuary Plan more widely in the relevant housing, homelessness and related sectors, including to funders
R2: Develop hosting including capacity building and enhancement of existing schemes in South Wales and establishing provision in Wrexham
R3: Support existing and further develop shared housing provision for refused asylum seekers
R4: Establish shared housing to serve the needs of both refused asylum seekers and refugees in housing need but who are able to pay rent
R5: Develop accessibility to emergency accommodation options and referral routes to support pathways out of destitution
R6: Ensure robust safeguarding arrangements are in place within hosting and housing developments and that housing providers and hosting schemes have appropriate links to those responsible for the conduct of health, social services and well-being assessments for vulnerable adults and destitute children
R7: Ensure that accommodation provision has effective links to immigration advice and representation and is able to deliver either directly or in partnership, advocacy which supports guests/residents to engage actively with their immigration case
R8: Influence the Home Office to review and change its policies and practices to alleviate destitution of refused asylum seekers
R9: Establish effective cross-sector partnership working and mutual accountability for coordination and effective use of resources to increase the number of bed spaces supporting refused asylum seekers on their pathways out of destitution