Asylum seekers and refugees - policy

Each country in the United Kingdom is pursuing social inclusion policies. We will ensure that you know which policies are operating where you work and also include key reports and legislation that have informed the policy. 

Government departments and other national bodies are arranged in alphabetical order, items which are dated are arranged chronologically with the most recent first.

You might also like to refer to the guidance and agencies and communities sections for further information on asylum seekers and refugees.

UK Wide

British Red Cross (2010) Not gone, but forgotten
The report explores the Red Cross’ work "supporting thousands of destitute asylum seekers and refugees throughout the UK, and the daily challenges they face just to survive". The report’s findings show that, under current policy, thousands of refused asylum seekers are denied employment, made homeless, refused healthcare and rely on handouts to survive. Some policy solutions to help improve this situation are suggested.

Home Office UK Border Agency: Asylum
This section of the Home Office website explains the asylum process and how applications for asylum are made, and the kinds of help and advice that are available.

Home Office (2010) Spotlight on refugee integration: findings from the Survey of New Refugees in the United Kingdom
This report summarises the results of the Survey of New Refugees (SNR), a longitudinal study of refugee integration in the UK. Integration was considered in terms of the English language skills, employment and housing of new refugees. The survey found that refugees had poorer health than the general population of England and Scotland and those who described themselves as being in good health were more likely to be employed than other refugees, and more likely to show improvement in English language skills. "The healthcare needs of refugees may need to be addressed before other objectives, such as language learning and entry into employment, can be achieved". 

Independent Asylum Commission
The Commission was established to undertake a nationwide review of the asylum system “on behalf of a whole range of citizens - from those who believe that asylum seekers are not being treated with humanity, to those who believe our asylum system is too generous”. The review was undertaken between Ocotber 2006 and July 2008. The Commission produced a series of publications which present the conclusions of the review and the recommendations for reform. This website is now an archive of the Commission's work.

Migration Observatory (2011) Asylum policy
This is in the series of policy primers which discuss fundamental questions, issues and research evidence on key policy issues relating to migration in the UK. It examines some of the key questions underlying the UK’s asylum policy, "focusing on the challenges and tensions between protecting human rights and ensuring that immigration controls are not undermined".

Refugee Council (2012) Experiences of refugee women in the UK (PDF 305.2KB)
This briefing summarises the Refugee Council's key concerns about the situation of refugee and asylum seeking women in the UK based on the experience of the Council in providing specialist support and counselling. The briefing sets out key information about the prevalence of rape and sexual violence experienced by many women seeking asylum and highlights the casework experience of the Powerful Women's Project in providing therapy to refugee women who have experienced sexual violence. It puts forward the Refugee Council's key priorities for policy change to improve the situation of refugee women in the UK.
See also a report published by the Refugee Council in 2013 on the impact of 'dispersal' policies on pregnant women: When maternity doesn't matter: dispersing pregnant women seeking asylum.


Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006
This act introduced some changes to the immigration appeals processes. It gives immigration officers increased powers, introduces a new asylum model in dealing with asylum claims and a civil penalty scheme for those knowingly employing illegal workers.


Department of Health (2012) Guidance on providing NHS treatment for asylum seekers and refugees
This page brings together some information about access to health care for asylum seekers and further sources of information including an Introduction to the NHS fact sheet.  

Northern Ireland

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2004) Asylum seekers and refugees:  policy guidance on access to health and social services (PDF 136.73KB)
“This policy guidance is intended for staff working within the Health and Personal Social Services sector in Northern Ireland, and aims to provide advice and information on the provision of health and social care services to asylum seekers and refugees".


Scottish Government: People & Society: Refugees and asylum seekers
The Scottish Government is responsible for devolved issues which relate to asylum seekers who are living in Scottish communities while their immigration application is being processed by the Home Office UK Border Agency. This includes integration initiatives, such as English language classes and translation assistance, and services such as health care, education and legal advice.

Scottish Executive (2004) Refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland: a skills and aspiration audit
This study developed in partnership with the Scottish Refugee Council  and “partly in response to the negative public discourse that pervades about asylum seekers and refugees” aimed to explore educational experiences and qualifications of refugees and asylum seekers, work experiences, language skills, and their needs and aspirations.


Welsh Assembly Government (2008) Refugee inclusion strategy
The Strategy “sets out the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision of refugee inclusion in Wales. The overall aim of the inclusion strategy is to support and enable refugees to rebuild their lives in Wales and make a full contribution to society”.