Funding for vital advice services for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK will be slashed by over 60 per cent from 1 April 2011. The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) is cutting its funding for refugee charities, including the Refugee Council, who have warned of the devastating impact this will have on people seeking saftey in the UK, as well as the wider voluntary sector and society.
From April, funding for advice services for newly arrived asylum seekers will be cut by 62 per cent, funding for initial accommodation services will be halved, and contracts for the Refugee Integration and Employment Services (RIES) will end completely from September.
The Asylum Support Partnership, which is made up of the Refugee Council, the Welsh Refugee Council, the Scottish Refugee Council, Refugee Action and the North of England Refugee Service (NERS) is calling for the government to reduce the unprecedented scale of the cuts, and to give us more time to implement the changes.
Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: “Savage cuts to the refugee charity sector will force people who have already fled torture, conflict and persecution in their own countries to suffer even further while seeking safety in the UK.
“This is unacceptable. Asylum seekers and refugees depend on the specialist services and expertise of refugee charities to enable them to rebuild their lives.
“Despite urging the government to reduce the unprecedented scale of these cuts, and to give us more time to implement the changes, we are extremely disappointed that cuts at a local and national level to our vital services will nevertheless go ahead as planned. While we are pleased the government has agreed to fund us at this level for an additional year, we remain concerned about the scale of the cuts and short timescale they have given us in which to reduce our services."
She added, “We understand these are challenging times, but we are gravely concerned cuts this deep will not only devastate the organisations that provide asylum seekers with a lifeline, but will a have a serious and lasting impact on the wider voluntary and public sector.
“Sixty years on from the UN Convention for Refugees, which has saved countless lives, it is imperative our government continues to protect those seeking refuge in the UK today. They must do this by ensuring the organisations that support them can carry on with their life-changing work,” said Ms Covey.