Asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers




Home Office asylum support

Asylum seekers are not entitled to claim public funds - most welfare benefits and social housing - but may be able to get help with housing and financial support from the Home Office if they are destitute. 

Support for asylum seekers and refused families (section 95)
An asylum seeker may get housing and financial support until their asylum claim is finally determined by the Home Office or appeal courts. Families will continue to receive this help if their claim has been unsuccessful if there was a child under 18 in the household when the final decision was made. This support is often referred to as 'section 95 support' because it is provided under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Financial support is provided as cash payments and may be applied for separately if the asylum seeker has alternative accommodation. 

Support for refused asylum seekers (section 4)​
A refused asylum seeker may get housing and financial support if they can show that there is a temporary barrier preventing them from leaving the UK. ​This support is usually provided to single people, but some families may apply for it if they did not ever previously get, or continue to receive, section 95 support (because there was no child in the household at the time of their final decision on their asylum claim). This support is often referred to as 'section 4 support' because it is provided under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. Financial support is provided in the form of vouchers and cannot be applied for separately if the refused asylum seeker has alternative accommodation. ​​

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Support from social services​

Generally, asylum seekers will get housing and financial support from the Home Office, but sometimes it may fall to social services at their local council to provide this. 

    Adult asylum seekers requiring care and support

    If an adult asylum seeker or refused asylum seeker (age 18+) has care and support needs that are related to a physical or mental health issue, illness or disability, they might be able to get housing from social services if they have care needs that meet the eligibility criteria and where social services decide that they can only meet the person's care and support needs by also providing housing, even if accommodation would be available from the Home Office.  

    Note that some refused asylum seekers can only get care and support from social services if this is necessary to prevent a breach of their human rights, so social services will need to carry out a human rights assessment to establish whether support can be provided. This will apply if a refused asylum seeker:

    • Claimed asylum in-country, after they entered the UK rather than at the port of entry
    • Failed to comply with removal directions (arrangements made by the Home Office to enforce a person's return to their country of origin)
    • Has family and has been issued with certification by the Home Office as failing to take steps to leave the UK voluntarily

      Asylum seeking families with children under 18

      Social services are not allowed to provide housing and financial support​ to an asylum seeking family who are able to get section 95 asylum support, so a family that has claimed asylum and has not had a final decision on their claim will need to apply to the Home Office for support. However, sometimes a family may be able to get housing from social services whilst the application for asylum support is being decided by the Home Office. 

      Refused asylum seeking families with children under 18

      Refused asylum seeking families who are not already supported by the Home Office (because they did not have a child in their household at the time their asylum claim was finally determined and refused, or they did not receive section 95 support) can only be referred to the Home Office for section 4 support if such support is 'available and adequate' in order to meet the child's needs. This means that some refused asylum seeking families may end up being supported by social services when Home Office support will not meet the needs of the child. 

      However some refused asylum seeking families can only get support from social services if this is necessary to prevent a breach of their human rights, so social services will need to carry out a human rights assessment to establish whether support can be provided. This will apply if a parent is a refused asylum seeker who:

        • Claimed asylum in-country, after they entered the UK rather than at the port of entry 
        • Failed to comply with removal directions (arrangements made by the Home Office to enforce a person's return to their country of origin)
        • Has family and has been issued with certification by the Home Office as failing to take steps to leave the UK voluntarily​​

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Further information 

For more information see our web page:
Families can use our web tool to find out what their support options are:


Information about asylum support provided by other organisations:


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Page updated 4 May 2017​