Asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to poverty due to a range of factors, and live in a state of relative or absolute poverty within the UK

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Poverty profile

Asylum seekers are particularly vulnerable to poverty due to a range of factors, and live in a state of relative or absolute poverty within the UK. Many have fled from desperate situations and arrived in the UK with no money and no accommodation. Stringent rules from UK government regarding financial and housing support make it even harder for asylum seekers to avoid living in poverty (Aspinall and Watters, 2010). This profile will look at how Asylum seekers are living in relative/absolute poverty by examining different factors that affect each individual including housing, benefits, employment and health and will identify how failed asylum seekers live in a more severe state of absolute poverty.


Percey (2015) reported that the number of asylum seekers in official accommodation in the UK is over 22,500, with 6,000 living in the North West. Liverpool houses around 1,400 compared with only 287 dispersed to the whole of the South East (excluding London) despite Liverpool being one of the most deprived local authorities in the country, with almost 40% of households living at or below the poverty line (Macpherson, 2014). High levels of deprivation are concentrated in the north and centre of the city particularly areas such as Kensington, Tuebrook and Anfield, which is where the highest number of Asylum seekers are dispersed to. Kensington has 324 despite a maximum capacity of 77 Asylum seekers, Tuebrook houses 276, with a capacity of 82 and Anfield has 156, with a capacity of 73. The southern areas of Liverpool, which are more affluent, do not house any dispersed Asylum seekers (Macpherson, 2014).


Alongside the accommodation, a limited amount of financial support is also provided under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1995 (Topping, 2009). A single person over 18 seeking asylum receives £36.95 (, 2015a) compared with a UK citizen aged 18-24 on income support who receives £57.90 until aged 25 when it increases to £73.10 (, 2015b). However asylum seekers receive no increase once aged 25. For individuals with children, the situation does not improve significantly. Ramesh (2012) identified that an asylum-seeking family with a young child would receive £125 a week which is actually below the severe poverty line. A similar UK resident family would receive £186 a week which is above the poverty line.


Many Asylum seekers are highly skilled and prefer to be in employment in order to provide for themselves. However, since 2002 the UK has prevented this which leaves individuals solely reliant on the minimal state support forcing them into deeper poverty (Chantler, 2012). However once status has been granted, former asylum seekers make a substantial contribution to the UK economy with a £2.9 billion net contribution made between 2001 and 2011 (Macpherson 2014).
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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 ...

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