The timetable for the inclusion of other parts of the country in these arrangements, which mean that the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) will provide vouchers and accommodation for destitute asylum seekers, has also been announced.
Replying to a parliamentary question from David Lidington (Aylesbury), Barbara Roche, the immigration minister said: 'I propose to extend the new support arrangements for asylum seekers in England and Wales as set out in Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 according to the following timetable:
Monday 31 July North East, Yorkshire and Humberside and
Wales in-country cases;
Monday 14 August In-country cases in North West, East
Midlands, Eastern, South West and South
Tuesday 29 August In-country cases in West Midlands and
Monday 25 September All disbenefited cases in England and
'The arrangements which take effect between 24 July and 29 August will apply to all new asylum seekers in England and Wales who claim asylum on or after the relevant dates set out in the table (in country applicants in Scotland and Northern Ireland are already covered by the new arrangements).
All asylum seekers who are currently being supported by local authority social services departments under the interim arrangements in Schedule 9 to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will continue to be so supported.
'Disbenefited cases' are those asylum seekers who prior to 3 April 2000 were in receipt of social security benefits but who on or after 25 September 2000 receive a first negative decision, who are thus no longer eligible for social security benefits, who go on to appeal and who continue to be eligible for support.
'The arrangements the government inherited were shambolic. We are moving to a unified system that will relieve pressure on local authorities as well as providing better support for asylum seekers. From 25 September all new asylum seekers will be supported by central government.'
From 3 April, the NASS has been supporting destitute asylum seekers who have claimed asylum at English ports, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Asylum seekers are provided with accommodation on a no choice basis and are supported with vouchers, rather than cash.
The accommodation is provided by a mix of public and private sector providers. On 17 April, the NASS also took responsibility for new asylum seekers in Kent.
It is estimated that the extension of the scheme will mean that by the end of September NASS will be dealing with a further 2,000 applications per month for support. Since 1 April, NASS has dealt with over 5,000 claims for support.