… by failing to meet asylum seekers’ essential living needs and protect them from destitution in the cost of living crisis
The High Court has today ruled that the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has acted and is continuing to act unlawfully by failing in her legal duty to provide for the essential living needs of asylum seekers. This follows evidence that she ignored advice from her officials, first issued on 31 August 2022 and repeated in September and November 2022, that she must increase the rate of weekly financial support paid to asylum seekers in order to avoid breaking the law.
Under Act of Parliament, the Home Secretary is under a legal duty to review the rate of support for asylum seekers in order to ensure that it is sufficient to meet their basic subsistence needs such as food, drink, clothing, toiletries, travel and non-prescription medication.
Internal Home Office advice to the Minster, disclosed during the proceedings, revealed that the current rate of £40.85 per week is no longer sufficient to meet basic living neamieeds. Officials recommended repeatedly that in light of rising inflation the rate must be increased in order to protect asylum seekers from destitution. On 15 November 2022 stated categorically that the rate had to be increased immediately to £45 per week. The Home Secretary again did not act on this advice. She provided no reasons or explanation to the Court for this failure, despite the court hearing having been listed for many months.
The legal ruling confirms that the Home Secretary is in breach of the law and is legally required to immediately increase the rate of weekly support. A further judgment on whether the Secretary of State acted unlawfully by using a less accurate methodology for calculating the cost of meeting the essential living needs of asylum seekers is likely to be handed down in the next few weeks. In the event that the Home Secretary refuses to act in light of today’s ruling the Court is likely to have no choice but to order her to do so.
The case was brought by an asylum seeker, CB, whose name has been anonymized to protect her identity.