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Keys to the City - ending refugee homelessness in London

Homelessness and destitution among newly recognised refugees in London are on the rise. This research from the Refugee Council presents the latest data, analysis and calls on changes to be made by the future Mayor of London, local authorities and national government.

Upon receiving refugee status, newly recognised refugees only have 28 days to find secure housing before eviction from asylum accommodation.

This puts refugees at higher risk of homelessness and destitution as they move from asylum support to mainstream social security. On top of this, the high up-front cost of a tenancy deposit means many private rental sector homes are unaffordable to new refugees.

Key findings

  1. Since the last report in 2021, there has been a dramatic rise in homelessness for newly recognised refugees. This is caused by changes to the Home Office process in August 2023 and exacerbated by the increase in the number of asylum decisions resulting from the work to clear the backlog in asylum claims.
  2. There has been a 239% increase in the number of households requiring homelessness support from local authorities after being evicted from Home Office asylum support accommodation, in the two years leading up to September 2023.
  3. Data from the Refugee Council's own Private Rented Scheme in London for 2022-2023 shows that 97% of refugees approaching the service were homeless. In 2023, two in five of them were street homeless, an increase of 75% from the previous year.

Key Recommendations

For the next Mayor:

  • Create a refugee tenancy deposit fund
  • Provide tenancy training and support for new refugees.

For the Government:

  • Extending the move-on period to at least 56 days, in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act and Universal Credit application timelines;
  • Listing the Home Office as a body with a legal duty to refer people at risk of homelessness to local authorities;
  • Introducing a nine-month grace period on the benefit cap for new refugees;
  • Issuing all documentation to refugees on the same day.
Find the full report here

About the Refugee Council

The Refugee Council is a leading charity working with refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK. Founded in 1951 following the creation of the UN Refugee Convention, it exists to support and empower people who have fled conflict, violence and persecution in order to rebuild their lives here in the UK.