Asylum seeker’s children aged 5-16 have the same entitlement to education as UK children. However Macpherson (2014) reported that it is rare for children to attend during the assessment asylum period, due to uncertainty of time in the area and reluctance from schools.
After the age of 16, children are no longer entitled to free education. If Asylum seekers apply for university, the international fee rate range is between £9000 - £26000, compared with a set fee of £9000 for home students. From 2012, Asylum seekers with discretionary leave to remain, are no longer entitled to home student fees and are not eligible to apply for a tuition fee loan from student finance (gov.uk 2015c).
Research by MIND (2009) reported that refugees and asylum-seekers face many obstacles in accessing health services in England and Wales. Asylum seekers who are awaiting an outcome of their application or appeal are entitled to free health care, however the regional asylum activism project, reported that people seeking asylum are not getting the healthcare they need, which is putting both individuals and the wider public at risk. Health watch Liverpool (2014) submitted a complaint to NHS England, as a range of GP practices in Liverpool refuse to accept asylum seekers. The report also highlighted barriers asylum seekers face in health services, such as: not knowing the system, language barriers and discrimination from staff. Individuals require a medical declaration to apply for Section 4 support and are faced with charges ranging from £15 - £75. People who are applying for this support generally have no access to financial help and if section 4 is granted, it is on a pre-paid card, which would not allow the individual to pay back any money loaned to afford the medical declaration. Macpherson (2014) reported that there are currently no official figures on the amount of asylum seekers registered with GPs or on their status in the asylum process however Taher (2015) reported that there are 816 patients registered with practices in Liverpool providing the local enhancement service in 2014/15. This indicates that a large amount of asylum seekers are not registered with their GPs.
Failed Asylum Seekers
Asylum seekers who are unsuccessful in their claim receive no financial support from the state and are not entitled to work. Following the notification of an unsuccessful decision, their support ends and they are required to leave their accommodation after 21 days. This leaves many people destitute, with no home, no money and no support. The only support failed Asylum seekers generally receive is from the voluntary sector and often local churches (Asylum Link). In some cases if a failed asylum seeker can meet the criteria of a ‘small number of tightly defined conditions’ they may be entitled to Section 4 support of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This is provided on a pre-paid card which can only be used for food and essential toiletries in certain stores (Refugee Council, 2013). The Red Cross (2014) reported that 85% of their survey respondents were left hungry and a further 85% reported being unable to buy other essential items such as nappies because Section 4 support is insufficient. The charitable organisation Asylum Link, in Liverpool, provides support for around 300 destitute people and supplies a weekly food bag to 100-150 refused-Asylum seekers (McNamara, 2015).
The impact of poverty on Asylum seekers is enormous and affects many aspects of their lives including health, mental wellbeing and relationships. Amnesty International (2006) reported Asylum seekers were living from’ hand to mouth, surviving on the charity of others with their dignity stripped away’. O’Neill and Hubbard (2012) suggested that Asylum-seekers represent a ‘new underclass: the minority within a minority’.
Amnesty International UK (2006) Down and out in London: The road to destitution for
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Gov.uk (2015b) Job Seeker’s Allowance [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/what-youll-get [Accessed 28th April 2015]
Gov.uk (2015c) Student Finance [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/further-information [Accessed 1st June 2015]
Health Watch Liverpool (2014) Improving Access to GP services [online] Available at: https://regionalasylumactivism.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/improving-access-to-gp-services-healthwatch-liverpool.pdf [Accessed 14th May 2015]
MacPherson. P (2014) People seeking Asylum and refugees in Liverpool – a needs assessment [online] Available at: http://www.cph.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Needs-assessment-of-asylum-seekers-Liverpool-for-JCG.pdf [Accessed 1st June 2015]
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