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Asylum Seekers: Support Service

Volume 684: debated on Wednesday 12 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they are taking in view of recent criticisms of the National Asylum Support Service by the Citizens Advice Bureaux concerning Section 4 support for asylum applicants who are unable to leave the United Kingdom for reasons beyond their control.[HL6639]

The Government are already implementing a range of initiatives to improve the administration of Section 4 support. As a result, the time taken for initial decisions has been reduced to less than five days, dedicated helpline numbers and an e-mail inquiry point have been established, and housing inspections are taking place on properties occupied by those on Section 4 support. We will continue to liaise with external stakeholders, including the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB), on administrative issues that are identified.

While the Government have made clear that they do not intend to provide Section 4 support in cash, we have already been reviewing a number of the areas where the CAB has criticised the current arrangements. This includes ensuring that the handling of cases by the new asylum model supports the transition to Section 4 support in appropriate cases, and also maternity and healthcare provision. We will continue to engage with stakeholders on matters relating to Section 4.