While asylum seekers wait for a decision on the outcome of their application, the Home Office must give them accommodation. Due to current pressures in the national asylum system the Home Office is looking for suitable premises for asylum seekers, across the country.
Find out more about asylum seekers, including:
- who asylum seekers are
- where asylum seekers come from
- why asylum seekers come to the UK
- the number of asylum seekers in the UK
- arrival arrangements for asylum seekers in York
- hotel accommodation in York for asylum seekers
- asylum seekers' access to local services in York
Who asylum seekers are
Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the '1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees' (the Refugee Convention). They have the legal right to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim, which is a legal process.
A person seeking asylum is someone who:
- has left their country of origin
- has formally applied for asylum in another country, according to the Refugee Convention
- is awaiting the outcome of their application
In the UK, an asylum seeker becomes a refugee when the government agrees their application for asylum meets the Refugee Convention’s requirements. The government then ‘recognises’ that person as a refugee and issues them with refugee status documentation. Usually, refugees in the UK are allowed to stay for 5 years. They must then apply for further 'leave', although their status as a refugee is not limited to 5 years.
There is no such thing as a bogus asylum-seeker or an illegal asylum-seeker. People who don't qualify for protection as refugees will not receive 'refugee status' and may be deported, but, just because someone doesn't receive refugee status, it doesn't mean they're a bogus asylum-seeker.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report that women and girls make up about half of any asylum seekers, refugee or internally displaced populations.
Women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, while their husbands, brothers or fathers take the risky, and often deadly, trip to another country. This is because:
- families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with logistics
- women and children are at much higher risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route
- families may be safer waiting until their male relatives have applied for asylum, before following in a much safer way (often facilitated by the British Red Cross)
Where asylum seekers come from
Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending March 2021, the highest numbers came from:
We're not informed where those seeking asylum in York come from; the Home Office does not comment on individual cases.
Some asylum seekers may be newly arrived in the UK, and others may have been here for some time while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.
Why asylum seekers come to the UK
There's no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country. Most stay in the first safe country they reach. 80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.
The number 1 reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here; this covers over 50% of cases.
Asylum seekers may also take into account their ability to speak the language, meaning they have more chance of:
- being able to find a job
- being able to navigate everyday tasks (understanding public transport, going shopping)
It's not uncommon for asylum seekers to state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country, and also refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.
Number of asylum seekers in the UK
The vast majority (80%) of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin, often developing countries.
More than 6.7 million people have fled the conflict in Syria, and many more are displaced in different areas inside the country.
Turkey is the biggest refugee hosting country in the world.
When compared with European Union (EU) countries, the United Kingdom (UK) ranks 14th in terms of the number of asylum applications per capita.
In the year ending March 2019 (before the pandemic) the UK received 39,840 applications for asylum, compared with:
- Germany receiving 157,875
- France receiving 113,625
- Spain receiving 69,735
- Greece receiving 67,970
- Italy receiving 42,825
Arrival arrangements for asylum seekers in York
On arrival in York, all asylum seekers are:
- given induction information
- provided written guidance on their rights and responsibilities in the UK
- expected to comply accordingly
North Yorkshire Police are involved in planning for asylum seekers’ arrival, and are working closely with partner agencies. They will deal with any reports or concerns as part of their usual duties.
Mears (the Home Office’s contractor for Yorkshire and the Humber) are managing self-catering hotel accommodation and providing security staff to ensure appropriate 24 hour, on-site cover in York,
The Home Office has told us asylum seeker accommodation in York will be used by small family groups and couples.
New arrivals will be given £40.80 per person, each week, by the government, for food, clothes and other essential expenses. We don't receive any additional funding to support asylum seekers nor our work with them, as they are not part of any funded scheme.
Hotel accommodation in York for asylum seekers
The use of hotels as asylum seeker accommodation is happening across the country, not just in York. The decision to use hotels, and which hotels, is made by the Home Office.
In York, the hotel will be managed by Mears, the Home Office’s contractor for Yorkshire and the Humber. We've been working closely the Home Office and Mears since the decision was made, in order to ensure the process works as smoothly as possible.
We know that, while asylum claims are considered:
- allocation of accommodation in York is based on need and pressures within the asylum system
- self-catering hotel accommodation is initially for up to 3 months
- asylum seekers will move from York when other accommodation is available
- the people staying in York may change over time
- asylum seekers will move to other temporary dispersed accommodation (managed by Home Office contractors) after leaving York
- temporary dispersed accommodation could be anywhere in the country; there's currently no dispersal accommodation within York
Asylum seekers' access to local services in York
Asylum seekers will be able to use local health services in the same way as anyone visiting York on a temporary basis. We're discussing how to manage this with local health services and local NHS services will get a small amount of funding from the Home Office.
Children placed in York will be given access to education, either through temporary attendance at local schools, or other means, depending on their needs.
Asylum seekers are not able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work. They may be able to get help with accommodation and financial support from the Home Office, if needed.