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HIV positive asylum seekers left destitute by local authorities

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vulnerable asylum seekers are being left at risk of homelessness and destitution, following the House of Lords ruling in M v Slough Borough Council. The ruling removed the right of many HIV-positive asylum seekers to receive housing support from social services under Section 21a of the National Assistance Act. Local authorities across England are now reviewing the support they provide and removing support from many people.

It is clear from the Lords judgment that most asylum seekers on Section 21 support will now need to access UK Border Agency ("UKBA") accommodation. However, the manner in which local authorities are handling this process is causing real harm. There are reports from around the country of eviction with just 10 days notice. There appears to be no coordination between the UKBA and local authorities to manage this process. No time is being given for individuals to apply for alternative support from the UKBA.

NAT is calling on local authorities and the UKBA to work together to ensure people are not left homeless as a result of this process. Local authorities are asked to work with UKBA case owners to ensure that Section 21 support is not withdrawn until alternative support is in place. Without this coordination there will be nowhere for these vulnerable asylum seekers to go.

NAT (the National AIDS Trust) has produced guidance for organisations supporting asylum seekers on how to help their clients manage this process. The guidance can be downloaded by visiting this part of our website.

Notes to the editor:

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK's leading charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.

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