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A new report, 'Written out of the picture', published this week by the North East Child Poverty Commission and the Regional Refugee Forum North East highlights the widespread incidence of poverty amongst refugees and asylum seekers, the ‘new underclass: the minority within a minority`(O’Neill & Hubbard). Because Asylum seekers are not allowed to work whilst their claims are being determined, most depend on Section 95 support, which is a lower rate of support than for UK citizens who are unable to work. It often works out at just over £5 a day (housing and utility bills are paid for separately).
According to researchers, this group ‘are forced to live on the ‘margins of the margins’ while waiting for their cases to be processed. Cut off from the world of work, and often denied decent housing, adequate medical provision or cultural services, many drift into a state of destitution, rely on charity hand-outs or are forced into an underground economy.‘(O’Neill & Hubbard)
Despite a growing acknowledgement that the support offered to asylum seekers in the UK effectively ‘traps’ them in poverty, the role of local services and the issue of poverty amongst individuals once granted leave to remain has received little attention from researchers or campaigners. Little central or local government attention has been paid to poverty amongst these groups, with government documents and statistics appearing to ‘miss out’ asylum seeking children