Leeds & West Yorkshire

Campaigners urge Leeds council action over asylum help

Campaigners have staged a demonstration in Leeds asking the council to take action to help stop failed asylum seekers being left destitute.

Leeds Dignity for Asylum Seekers said hundreds of people depended on hand-outs due to a government policy of ending support when claims are refused.

Other local authorities have passed motions criticising the Home Office policy.

Leeds City Council said it was looking at possibly doing the same.

Charities and campaign groups want the government to continue cash-based support until refused asylum seekers leave voluntarily, are removed or are granted permission to stay.

They said because failed asylum seekers were not permitted to work or claim support, they were dependent on charities for housing, money and food.

'Pressure on council'

Earlier this year, Glasgow City Council passed a motion criticising the Home Office policy of making life sufficiently uncomfortable for failed asylum seekers that they choose to leave.

Bristol City Council and Sheffield City Council have done the same.

Emma McKee, from Leeds Dignity for Asylum Seekers, said: "The demonstration is to put pressure on the council to follow Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield in passing motions against forced destitution in the hope that this will, in turn, bring pressure to bear on central government."

The Home Office said people whose asylum claims fail should leave the country.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "While arrangements to return home are made, we provide support in the form of the Azure card, which can be used in over 8,000 shops to cover essential living needs.

"No failed asylum seeker need face destitution if they comply with the law and our courts and return when required to do so."

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