Refugees: The Facts

Below is a list of the some of most common misconceptions about asylum seekers and refugees who come to the UK, as well as the hard facts which show the reality.

“Asylum Seekers take up British housing”

UNTRUE – Asylum seekers are not put on a housing waiting list. They are housed under a separate system and cannot chose what accommodation they get. The Home Office usually allocates asylum seekers in accommodation which is hard-to-let, or they use a specialist hostel. If an asylum seeker is granted refugee status, they are then evicted from government housing, and forced to find their own accommodation.1

“They all want to come to Britain”

UNTRUE – Refugees come to the United Kingdom to escape persecution. Most refugees had a stable life in their country of origin, but have been forced to flee because of repressive governments, terrorism, or bombing. Evidence shows that the majority of refugees plan to return to their country of origin once it is safe to return. Additionally, significantly more refugees chose to settle in Germany, rather than the UK (a result of Germany’s more hospitable climate for refugees).2

“Refugees don’t want to work and contribute to the economy”

UNTRUE – Immigrants, including refugees, contribute more to the public purse than UK counterparts. The vast majority of refugees want to work and integrate into British life. Often a major reason for coming to the UK is because they can speak English, which makes securing a job more likely. Additionally, a significant number of refugees are skilled workers. For example, in 2008, there was 1,200 doctors registered in the British Medical Association’s database. Refugees are also not exempt from paying VAT, income tax, or any other form of tax.3

“Asylum seekers can live comfortably off of benefits”

UNTRUE – Asylum seekers receive the equivalent of £5 per day. This is provided on an Azure card rather than in cash; additionally, the card can only be used in a limited number of outlets. Living off of £5 per day puts asylum seekers well below the UK poverty line. If an asylum seeker’s application is rejected, all support is removed within 21 days. Research by the Refugee Council also shows that the majority of asylum seekers have no prior knowledge of the UK benefit system before arriving.4

“Asylum seekers take money away from local councils”

UNTRUE – Asylum seekers are looked after by central government funds rather than local councils. No money from local councils is spent on housing asylum seekers.5

“Britain is taking more refugees than anyone else in Europe”

UNTRUE – The UK will take 5,000 refugees over the next five years. This is insignificant in comparison to Germany, which granted asylum to 40,000 refugees in August alone (and an estimated 800,000 so far this year). At the height of asylum seeker movement, over 24,000 people entered Hungary in a single day (more than the UK will take in five years). In 2014, Germany received just over 200,000 claims for asylum, that is twice as many as any other European country. 2013 figures from the UNHCR show that the United Kingdom is home to less than 1% of the world’s refugees.6 7

“Migrants bring more crime to the streets of Britain”

UNTRUE – Evidence from the Association of Chief Police Officers suggests that offending rates among migrant communities are no higher than the general population.8