Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help provides advice and support to asylum seekers in a range of areas. Our service is for new asylum seekers and for those supported by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). We also provide guidance to asylum seekers who have been refused asylum and wish to make an application for continued support, and to those who require additional support because of exceptional circumstances.
Section 95 support is provision of Home Office Accommodation and subsistence (financial) support through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) system. The NASS system also includes the provision of Healthcare and Education for children. New asylum seekers can avail of this support, if needed. It is also called NASS support and is provided if an asylum seeker meets specific Home Office destitution criteria.
A person is ‘destitute’ if they do not have adequate accommodation or enough money to meet living expenses for themselves and any dependents now or within the next 14 days. The Home Office will run credit and other checks to assess eligibility for support. While these checks are being undertaken, Initial Accommodation and financial assistance (£5 per day) are provided to asylum seekers who are destitute. This is known as Section 98 support.
Section 95 support can take the form of subsistence only (i.e. cash only support) if the asylum seeker has somewhere to stay pending their asylum claim. Most people require accommodation and subsistence support. Section 95 support is only available while asylum applicants are waiting for a final decision on their asylum claim.
At Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help, we assist in writing Section 95 support applications (ASF1) and sending them to the Home Office. The application is usually completed on the first day the asylum seeker arrives to our office and states a need for support. The Home Office usually takes 3-6 weeks to decide on Section 95 support. If the application is successful, the applicant will move from Initial Accommodation to Dispersal Accommodation (also called NASS Accommodation). People who claim asylum in Northern Ireland are accommodated in Belfast.
Accommodation is provided by the Home Office under the COMPASS (Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services) contract. In Northern Ireland NASS Accommodation is provided by the service company, Serco, on behalf of the Home Office, and administered through the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), in the private rental sector.
The level of cash support provided is a fixed rate which is significantly lower than income support levels. It is currently £36.95 per week per person (from July 2016 adults and children now receive the same). New asylum applicants moving on to Section 95 support will receive a prepaid Aspen payment card, which can be used to purchase essential items and collect their weekly allowance. It is issued at Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We are also the main point of contact should the Aspen card be damaged, lost, stolen or payment issues are identified.
Some people whose asylum applications have been refused are detained and removed from the country, but others may not be. In such cases, they may be eligible for short-term support.
If an asylum seeker’s claim has been refused and any appeal has been fully determined, they will not be eligible for Section 95 support, but may be eligible for Section 4 support. This is short-term support provision of emergency accommodation and non-cash allowance. It is issued while the asylum seeker is preparing to return to their country of origin or because specific reasons exist which mean they are unable to return home.
Strict requirements must be met to qualify for Section 4 support. The applicant must be destitute and satisfy one of the following requirements:
A legal representative should be able to assist if a refused asylum seeker has new evidence available explaining why they cannot return home. Advice and guidance is also available via Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We will assist with the completion of an application for Section 4 support.
The following information is required (if applicable) before a Section 4 Subsistence and Accommodation application can be made:
Section 4 support is different from the support which may have been receiving during the asylum claim (Section 95 support). It includes non-cash entitlement of £35.39, given in the form of an Aspen payment card.
This card can be used in all retail outlets which accept Visa, and for the purchase of specific items (usch as food, essential toiletries, clothing and credit for mobile phones).
Section 96 support is an additional payment option for asylum seekers who experience ‘exceptional’ circumstances or need and are currently in receipt of Section 95 support. To qualify for Section 96 support, applicants must evidence that their circumstances or needs are indeed exceptional, and that additional costs incur because that need cannot be met under their current Section 95 payment.
Needs which can be met under Section 96 are those for accommodation or for ‘essential living’ only. If it is considered that further support is necessary, this may be provided in a variety of ways, including:
Supported persons who believe, because of their particular circumstances, they have a need for further support, must apply using an application form (ASF2) setting out:
Documentary evidence must be provided wherever possible to support the application. Applications for Section 96 support are made through Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help. We will assist in completing an ASF2 application form and advise on the necessary documentary evidence required.
At Bryson Intercultural/Migrant Help we also assist with guidance and applications for support in the following areas:
Maternity payments: A single, one-off maternity payment may be provided to new mothers receiving asylum support to help with the costs arising from the birth of a new baby. The application must be made in writing no earlier than eight weeks before the baby is born or six weeks after the baby is born. We can make this application on the person’s behalf.
Children aged under three years: All women who are receiving asylum support and who are pregnant or have children under three years of age are entitled to additional payments.
Change of circumstances: The Home Office must be notified if an asylum seeker experiences a change of circumstances regarding themselves or their dependents. These changes may influence entitlement of support. We will assist in informing or applying to the Home Office on their behalf. Change of circumstances may include: