Asylum seekers do not receive £175 a week

8 March 2023
What was claimed

Asylum seekers in the UK receive £175 a week.

Our verdict

Asylum seekers receive around £45 per week but much less if meals are provided at their accommodation.

What was claimed

Asylum seekers receive three meals a day.

Our verdict

Only asylum seekers housed in hotels and similar accommodation have meals provided.

What was claimed

Asylum seekers are housed in four-star hotels.

Our verdict

Some asylum seekers have been placed in four-star hotels but they may also be placed in flats, houses or hostels. Asylum seekers have to accept whatever accommodation is offered to them.

What was claimed

Asylum seekers in France receive no benefits.

Our verdict

French asylum seekers receive a broadly similar level of financial support to that provided by the UK.

An item on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme on 5 March 2023 included a clip of someone making incorrect comments about the benefits paid to asylum seekers in the UK. 

Ahead of a live studio discussion about the latest proposals to stop small boats crossing the Channel, the show broadcast a series of audio clips from “rival demonstrations in Dover” that had taken place over the weekend. 

One unidentified man is heard to say: "If you get a four star hotel, three meals a day and £175 a week to spend, what would you do? France, they get nothing."

These claims are false but were not challenged or discussed by the presenters of the show. The BBC has now issued a correction, after being contacted by Full Fact.

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Asylum support in the UK

The Home Office has a statutory duty to provide accommodation for asylum seekers who do not have the means to obtain it themselves and/or cannot meet their essential living needs, but they are not able to choose where they are based nor the type of accommodation they are placed in. 

As those applying for asylum are generally unable to work while they are processed by the Home Office, they can be housed by the government  until the claim is either approved or rejected.

During this time, asylum seekers are generally placed in initial, short-term, hostel-type accommodation. However, an increase in the number of asylum seekers in recent years has led the government to increasingly use hotels around the country  as a temporary form of accommodation, alongside flats, hostels and houses.

There have been some instances of asylum seekers reportedly being housed in four-star accommodation. However, the charity Refugee Action also says some of the hotels used have been found with rat or insect infestations as well as issues such as damp or mould. 

Cash allowance 

Asylum seekers are also entitled to receive an allowance of £45 each week—approximately £6.42 per day—to pay for items such as food, clothing and toiletries. However, if they are housed in accommodation that provides meals, this amount is reduced to £9.10 each week. 

The money is loaded onto a dedicated debit card which can be used to make payments directly or to withdraw funds from a cash machine. 

Extra payments for food are available for young children, pregnant women and mothers of babies in the range of £3 to £5 a week, as well as a £300 maternity payment for those whose baby is due in 8 weeks or less or have a baby under 6 weeks old.

Support in France

The claim that asylum seekers in France receive “nothing” is also incorrect. They are entitled to an asylum seekers allowance with a starting rate of €6.80 per day for a single person. This is broadly similar to the amount paid to asylum seekers in the UK. An additional amount of €7.40 euros is paid to those who have expressed a need for accommodation but have not been given any.

A correction to the claim

After being contacted by Full Fact, the BBC added an entry to its Corrections and Clarifications page which says: “To be clear, asylum seekers are entitled to somewhere to live, a cash allowance or both. They cannot choose where they live and usually get £45 per person a week to pay for food, clothing and toiletries, though this is reduced to less than £10 a week when food is provided.”

Broadcasters should take action to minimise the possibility of misinformation on their services, including with pre-recorded material as well as live interviews. 

Corrections should, wherever possible, be made to the audience that heard or saw the false or misleading claim. Such corrections should also be clear for listeners and viewers using catch up services as stand alone correction listings are not sufficient.

Image courtesy of Colin Watts

We took a stand for good information.

As detailed in our fact check, the BBC added an entry to its Corrections and Clarifications page.

After we published this fact check, we contacted the BBC again to request an on air correction regarding these claims.

An on air correction was subsequently broadcast.

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