Dudley has a relatively small number of Asylum Seekers housed in the borough. Central government has a policy of dispersing Asylum Seekers away from London and the South-East and Dudley plays its part in this. Asylum seekers are housed by a private company who are contracted to the Home Office.
Asylum Seekers Key Facts
This guide aims to provide you with some facts and figures about asylum seekers and refugees and the way they are dealt with in Dudley and the United Kingdom.
Who is an asylum seeker?
Anyone at all is allowed to ask for sanctuary in another country if they are suffering persecution in their own. An asylum seeker is someone who has submitted an application for asylum to the UK authorities and is still waiting for a decision on whether this will be granted.
Who is a refugee?
A refugee is someone who has had their asylum application thoroughly investigated, and who has proven that they have ‘a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion’ in their homeland and are afraid to return to that country. Under international law and conventions they are entitled to protection in another country.
Why couldn’t they return to their own country?
Asylum seekers tend to come from countries with either very oppressive governments or very little social order where people feel their lives and safety, or those of their families, are at risk.
Where do they come from?
Asylum seekers in Dudley come from a range of countries including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Zimbabwe, Somalia, China and Syria.
Why do they come to the UK?
Most asylum seekers do not come here – they stay in the first safe country they reach. The vast majority of refugees can be found in the developing world, accounting for 72% of the world’s estimated 12 million asylum seekers and refugees. Across the European Union, Germany takes more asylum seekers than the UK, while there are even more asylum seekers in less developed neighbouring countries like Turkey than in western Europe.
Research shows that most asylum seekers who do come to the UK have little choice in the matter – they are dependent on whoever arranges their escape for them. For those who do have a choice, the main reasons for coming to the UK are usually: some knowledge of English, having relatives or friends living in the country, and a belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic society.
Are asylum seekers able to claim high levels of benefits?
No. And asylum seekers are not allowed to work either while their cases are being assessed. They only receive 70% of Income Support rates. This is approximately £42 per week.
Do asylum seekers receive free goods such as mobile phones?
No, this is a myth and completely untrue. Asylum seekers only receive basic living necessities from the state. If asylum seekers do have mobile phones, it will because they have saved up to pay for them and because it may be difficult for a landline to be allocated to their property. Mobile phones are often the only means of communication asylum seekers have with their homeland, their solicitors, or the immigration authorities. Sometimes charities or local churches, for example, may allocate second hand goods, clothes, and food parcels to asylum seekers, many of whom arrive in this country with little or no belongings.
Are most asylum seekers young single men?
No, less than 40% of asylum seekers are single, and this percentage includes single women as well as single men. Most people claiming asylum are a family unit.
Can asylum seekers jump the housing list?
No. Many asylum seekers are housed in private accommodation by the private company contracted to the Home Office. None of this is paid for out of council tax.
Asylum seekers are not entitled to rent Council or Private housing as they have no legal right to rent.
If an asylum seeker proves their case and is accepted as a refugee, they have to find their own housing or wait on the council waiting list just like anyone else. They do not receive any extra points or preferential treatment. Housing in Dudley is always allocated on need.
How many asylum seekers are here?
The number of asylum seekers being supported in Dudley is very small. All the local authorities in the region have an agreement with the government that numbers will not ever be greater than half of one percent of the population. Birmingham takes the majority of asylum seekers who come to the West Midlands and the actual numbers are currently getting smaller. In Dudley asylum seekers make up approximately 0.16% of the total population, or around 500 out of a population of 305,000.
How long are they here for?
Individual asylum seekers will be living here while the Home Office looks at their asylum case. The Home Office has a target of 6 months to make decisions. Some, who are accepted as refugees, may choose to build their new lives here.
Will you have to pay more council tax to pay for them?
No. Central government meets all the costs of looking after asylum seekers. Children in Dudley schools are educated like everyone else, and the costs of this are funded through specific grants, again direct from central government.
What difference does this make to our local services?
There is no evidence to suggest that local services suffer as a result of the presence of asylum seekers or refugees.
Aren’t many asylum seekers illegal immigrants?
The asylum system is very tough and weeds out people who are genuinely in fear of their safety from those who have other reasons for leaving their home country. Asylum seekers have to prove their case if they want to stay and the evidence shows that many have their claims are accepted. In the meantime, all asylum seekers are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity whilst they are living in our communities.