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NEW RULE BRINGING IN BACKDATED PAYMENTS FOR REFUGEES

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Regulations were laid before parliament today which allow those asylum seekers who are granted refugee status to ma...
Regulations were laid before parliament today which allow those asylum seekers who are granted refugee status to make claims for Income Support (IS), Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) for the period they may have been denied benefits as asylum seekers.

Social security secretary Peter Lilley said: 'New rules for asylum seekers currently allow benefits to people who openly claim asylum at their port of entry until a negative decision is made on their claim and deny benefits to those who conceal their intentions until after their arrival in the UK.

'These regulations will enable those asylum seekers awarded refugee status at the initial decision, and those awarded refugee status at the appeal stage to have their benefit backdated to the date of their application for asylum or to the date when benefit ceased following a negative decision.

'This will put asylum seekers in a similar position to that of British citizens who successfully appeal against refusal of benefits. Refugees will then be able to repay friends or voluntary organisations who may have supported them while their asylum claim was being processed.'

The Regulations were announced during proceedings on the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. Anyone awarded refugee status after the coming into force of the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 on 24 July will be able to make a claim for a retrospective payment providing they make it within 28 days of the regulations coming in or of refugee status being awarded.

Mr Lilley added: 'These regulations reaffirm our commitment to support genuine refugees. The message that the UK is no longer a soft touch for unfounded asylum applications is getting through. The number of asylum claims in August shows a further reduction, down by 44% on August last year'

-- The new regulations come into force on 15 October 1996.

-- The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 reinstated those parts of the Social Security(Persons From Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations overturned by the Court of Appeal on 21 June. It made specific provision for the termination of entitlements gained under the judgement.

-- The reinstated regulations currently in force exclude the following three groups from Income Support, Housing Benefit, and Council Tax Benefit: - people who have entered the UK on the understanding that they would have no recourse to public funds, and then claim asylum later, - people who have entered or remained in the UK illegally and then claimed asylum, - people who have been found by the Home Office not to be refugees.

KEY FACTS Asylum applications in 1995: 43,965

Outcome of Home Office asylum decisions in 1995:

5% granted refugee status

16% granted exceptional leave to remain

79% refused both refugee status and exceptional leave to remain

Outcome of asylum appeals in 1995:

3% successful

77% dismissed

20% withdrawn/referred back

Reduction in applications since February 1996

1995 1996 % change January 3,570 3,312 - 7.23 February 3,025 2,851 - 5.75 March 3,310 3,144 - 5.02

April 2,810 2,060 - 26.69 May 3,450 1,754 - 49.16 June 3,630 1,730 - 52.34 July 3,415 2,514 - 26.38 August 3,890 2,140 - 44.8.

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