Author: Liam Kirkaldy
Refugees in Scotland will be able to access crisis grants on arrival under new plans introduced by the Scottish Government.
Ministers said Family Reunion Crisis Grants, worth a total £100,000 and distributed through the Scottish Welfare Fund, will provide help with initial living costs as well as essential items, such as beds, for those arriving in Scotland under family reunion rules.
Announcing the funding, Equalities Secretary Angela Constance said: “Too many people arriving in Scotland under family reunion arrangements are forced to start their new life in abject poverty because they cannot apply for support until they arrive here. When you consider that these people have been separated from their families, have fled their home – often under threats of violence and death – that is not acceptable.”
Aiming to provide refugees with support in the time it takes to assess which benefits they are entitled to, the grants will be administered by local authorities from 14 May.
Phil Arnold, head of refugee support for the British Red Cross, said: “Being with family is one of the most basic instincts that people have, and this is no different for refugees. By introducing grants for newly reunited families, we can make sure they face a more certain future together, and remove the risk of refugee families falling into destitution or homelessness.
“Families with children are especially more likely to experience problems because of the longer time it takes to process Child Tax Credit compared with other benefits and because they usually need to move to larger accommodation. This is a real risk and it is particularly concerning because they place additional strain on reuniting families at a critical time recovering from their individual and collective ordeals, when the family just wants to get on and rebuild their home and family life together in Scotland.”
Holyrood will hold an up-to-date briefing on the Scottish Government’s New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, which aims to support refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland’s communities, on 31 May. Check out the event page for more information or to book a place.