The enforced destitution of asylum seekers in the UK

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Asylum seekers are often destitute upon their arrival in the UK and, thus, they depend primarily on the UK government to support them. Yet, the UK government has been enforcing the destitution of asylum seekers through socio-political and economic mechanisms. Socio-political mechanisms of destitution relate to repressive asylum policies inhibiting asylum seekers’ access to mainstream benefits, employment and their ability to do meaningful activities, while economic mechanisms of destitution relate to an insufficient asylum allowance that leaves asylum seekers destitute. This article uses 50 interviews conducted with asylum seekers, refugees and staff from various organisations to explore asylum seekers' experiences of enforced destitution in Glasgow. Findings indicate that socio-political mechanisms of destitution underpin experiences of destitution and are the precursor to the economic mechanism of destitution. Findings also show that economic mechanisms of destitution challenge asylum seekers’ ability to meet their subsistence needs. Furthermore, the UK government’s enforced destitution of asylum seekers has caused asylum seekers to depend upon the third sector to fill the gaps in meeting their basic needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalJournal of Human Rights and Social Work
Early online date6 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2024


  • Forced migration
  • asylum seekers
  • UK government
  • Enforced destitution
  • Hostile immigration environment


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