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  • Paul M.

Imagine that, an increase of 26p a day.

Asylum seekers in the UK have always had to struggle with their weekly allowance which falls below the basic standard of living. Asylum seekers are one of the most isolated and vulnerable groups in society and the asylum support they receive is significantly less than that of mainstream benefits. As you can imagine living on just over £5 a day is practically living in poverty. Coupled with coronavirus lockdown and the complications it has caused, it has been very difficult for a lot of people in this process to get by. The government has been pressured to do more to help those in need and on the 15th of June 2020, the UK government increased the weekly allowance from £37.75 a week to £39.60. "That is about 5 times higher than the current inflation rates which is approximately 0.8%'' boasted MP Chris Philp revealing the allowance increase. But a 5% increase is merely an increase of £1.85 a week, 26p a day. Imagine that, an increase of 26p a day.

In the current economic climate as the world struggles to fight the covid pandemic, we already know how difficult it is to get by and a possible global recession on the horizon. It is close to impossible to comprehend what you can do with £39.60 a week at this time. During this public health emergency, when prices are rising and we all need to spend extra on hand sanitiser, cleaning items, hygiene care, health supplements vitamins and over the counter medication it is obscene to ask people to live on £5.65 a day.

You can't even buy chewing gum 26p. This is not help, this is not compassion, this is not an increase, this is an insult. It is really disappointing that the UK government continues, despite the pandemic, despite the Black Lives Matter movement and despite the debacle of the Windrush scandal ; still hangs on to their hostile environment infrastructure.This obviously pushes people seeking asylum into a more marginalised group of people. Asylum seekers are restricted to a lot of social services like education (esol classes), food banks etc. Making them rely on the kindness of individuals, community groups and charities many of which are under funded and are overwhelmed. These systemic policies elevate inequality of the asylum process leaving people overwhelmed by isolation, anxiety, depression and hopelessness which all inevitably lead to some sort of mental health problem for some. People are left in the shadows, often living in squalid accommodation, unable to socialise and integrate into society. Instead they should be given the chance to improve on their language skills, study and get basic qualifications like ESOL certificates or O'levels to better help their employment prospects in the future. But it seems this what xenophobia and racism looks like in the 21st century, is this ok, 'is this the new norm?' No one should be judged for their ethnicity or country of origin. This should not be happening in the 21st century. We all know about the Windrush Generation, we saw how this scandal exposed the UK's hostile environment policies. This mentality has to be dismantled right to the core. People seeking asylum and or indeed any immigrants shouldn't have to face discrimination and prejudice for fleeing for their lives or just wanting to build a better life . The UK asylum process should be designed to help people integrate and support people in settling in the UK. Many of these people have skills and expertise that can be beneficial to society and the economy. So much of the hard earned taxpayers money could be saved by having more considerate, humane policies and a slimlined system were people don't have to sit in poverty and isolation waiting for years on years for the Home Office to make a decision. With all that's going on in the world, it is time we all join together and make a change. Here at Carag we want to see an increase in Asylum allowance and adequate accommodation. £5.66 a day is unacceptable. Together with Refugee council's 'Open Letter' to the government we invite and encourage you to sign this letter in support for living below the poverty line.

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