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Scotland pressures Tory government to end financial restrictions on asylum seekers

THE Tory government is facing pressure from Scotland to end restrictions that deny asylum-seekers financial help.

Scottish politicians have called for the Home Office to end its No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) provisions, which affect a significant number of those seeking refugee status in Britain. 

Immigration laws prohibit those from accessing many benefits if they are “subject to immigration control.”

The Scottish Greens said the policy was “cruel” and should be permanently removed to allow refugees to live in Britain with dignity. 

Glasgow councillor Kim Long said: “Treating people with dignity and respect should be the fundamental basis of a humane immigration system. That means no recourse to public funds must go, not just for the duration of this crisis, but permanently. 

“This is just one cruel arm of the institutionally racist Home Office’s brutal asylum and immigration regime though. 

“Time and again people who are seeking sanctuary here, having fled horrors, are retraumatised by this brutal system. Scotland can do so much better.”

The calls come after the Scottish government told the Home Office to end the policy during the coronavirus crisis. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen homeless people and those in night shelters moved to hotels and other suitable accommodation - with the Scottish government, councils and others having to pick up the costs.

As well as calling for NRPF provisions to be suspended, the Scottish government is also wanting to recoup those costs.

Ministers have written to Immigration Minister Chris Philp on a number of occasions after spending, with local government and the third sector, a total of £600,000 on accommodation — and a further £275,000 on basic living costs — but are still to receive a response.

Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am again asking that the UK government does the right thing and immediately lift the restrictions of NRPF for the duration of the coronavirus crisis on public health grounds.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We have been very clear that nobody should find themselves destitute during this crisis due to circumstances beyond their control.

“Extensive action to support those with no recourse to public funds has been taken, such as rent protections, the job retention scheme, the self-employed income support scheme, allocating more than £3.2 billion to local authorities and £750 million for charities to support the most vulnerable.”

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