The disaster of enforced destitution for refused asylum seekers is about to come to families. The results are unthinkable. Some of the most vulnerable families in our nation will be homeless and entirely without the means to live. Please pray urgently that this will not happen.

‘One of the most brutal parts of this heinous bill, Clause 37, proposes to remove the support provided to families who are seeking asylum if their claim for sanctuary is refused. Currently asylum seekers with children maintain their allowance (around a £5 a day per person – often on a prepaid Azure card) and their home.

The fact that this support is withdrawn from single adults (who have no right to work, or access to benefits or homeless services) is already an affront to our collective humanity. Yet, the proposals to expand this enforced destitution to children is troubling, not least because there is a pretence that children, regardless of nationality, have rights and are protected equally under the law. As with single adults, families will go hungry, sleep rough, children will miss school, and all will suffer from a situation that will impact their mental and physical health

It is clear that the effects of this clause are deeply disturbing and far ranging in their impacts, but for what purpose we might ask? As with the rest of the bill, it is supposed to ‘control immigration’, and in this case, to force families to ‘go home’ (ignoring the fact that their home is here). Given the serious implications for families’ health and safety, it is fair to ask, how well does this policy achieve its stated aim?

In short, it doesn’t.

The then government tried this a decade ago. The results of this pilot scheme from 2004 showed that, aside from the severe hardship and anguish, the policy had the result of making fewer people ‘go home’ than those who retained support. Some families even fell off the radar altogether.

I’m not arguing here for a ‘better’ policy of forcing families to leave the UK to go to places where they are not safe. There is no humane way to do something that is inherently inhumane. However, this policy has been shown to have the opposite effect than that of making people leave the UK. And the current government know this: while in opposition Conservative MP Ian Duncan Smith’s own Centre for Social Justice wrote a report which criticised the effectiveness of the policy.

Again, one has to wonder what is the purpose of this policy? If it’s not to force people to leave, then what is it?’

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