Asylum Seeker Evictions

Asylum Seeker Evictions Halted due to COVID-19

As part of the national effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Home Office has announced the postponement of all asylum seeker evictions for three months. 

With the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus growing each day, it is positive to see the Home Office acting to safeguard asylum seekers from the impact of the pandemic. 

According to a Home Office spokesperson, not a single asylum seeker will be removed from government-supported housing until at least June. The rule is all-encompassing, and even applies to those whose asylum claim or appeal has been rejected. 

The introduction of this measure means that, for almost 50,000 people, the threat of forced evictions and street homelessness has now been removed. 

As the threat of COVID-19 increases, this move is essential in order to protect our most vulnerable from the outbreak. 

The move is positive as it defends some of our must vulnerable from the ongoing pandemic. [Image: The National]

In a letter addressed to the British Red Cross, Home Office minister Chris Philp has said that:

‘We must do all we can to ensure that people remain in their homes and do not travel or move around unnecessarily’.

The introduction of this measure means that, for almost 50,000 people, the threat of forced evictions and street homelessness has now been removed.

The move also means that asylum seekers who have had their claim accepted are now free from the pressure of finding alternative accommodation within the usual 28-day window. Under usual circumstances, a person has four weeks to make other housing arrangements once refugee status has been granted, as they are no longer able to live in asylum accommodation. 

At a time when the safety and security of all is more important than ever, it is reassuring to hear that successful asylum applicants are also provided for. 

In response to the announcement, Alex Fraser, director of refugee support at the British Red Cross had this to say: 

‘It’s very welcome news that the Home Office will temporarily halt all evictions from asylum accommodation.

‘Nobody should be at risk of homelessness and destitution, and this is an important first step to ensuring that people are able to protect themselves, their families and their communities.’

At a time when the safety and security of all is more important than ever, it is reassuring to hear that successful asylum applicants are also provided for.

The announcement follows the government’s confirmation that no renter in either private or social housing will be at risk of forced eviction during the ongoing pandemic. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, it is absolutely vital that all people have the ability to properly self-isolate. Not only this, but with homelessness and ill-health so closely related, the forced removal of people from their homes would leave them particularly vulnerable to the disease. 

In such testing times, it is vital that asylum seekers do not fall through the cracks. Image: The National]

Whilst the postponement of asylum evictions is hugely positive, it will likely lead to increased pressure on the asylum system. The Home Office has stated that it result in a number of ‘difficult decisions at short notice’. 

In the past few weeks, more than 300 detainees who were scheduled for deportation have been released from Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). 

This is due to fears that one confirmed case of COVID-19 inside an IRC would lead to a serious outbreak, with detainees not only held in close proximity to each other, but faced with substandard sanitary conditions and poor access to healthcare. 

It is currently not known how many of the 300 have been released for health reasons, nor is it known how many are unable to be deported due to border closures brought about by Coronavirus. 

The Home Office have said:


‘The safety and health of people in our accommodation and the communities in which they live is of the utmost importance.

As part of government measures to fight coronavirus and ensure people remain in their homes and do not travel unnecessarily no one will be asked to leave asylum accommodation over the next three months.“We will continue to adjust our processes and procedures where necessary and appropriate’.                        

[Header Image: Scottish Housing News]                                    

Written by
Cameron Boyle