The Home Office currently operates a dispersal system for Asylum applicants
across the UK, to get applicants out of London. Current dispersal across the UK, is:
Yorkshire and Humberside 8,470
North West 8,155
West Midlands 6,930
The implication for Deaf applicants is that specialist services might not be provided in the provinces, and the setting up of accessible services might not be justified due to low concentration of numbers of Deaf people. The need for specialist services, or at the very least accessible services with a necessary level of expertise, will be touched upon in subsequent posts, especially around education.
Accommodation may be provided by a local authority, housing association or a
private landlord. There are different types of accommodation: hostels offering full board for single people; self catering houses or flats for families. The provider of accommodation is responsible for advising on how to access local services. The question remains, if there are no Deaf or sign language users (who are capable of international sign) as providers of accommodation, how can this objective be achieved in respect of Deaf applicants?
NASS: The National Asylum Support Service
From April 2000, NASS has taken over the administration of benefits from local authorities and the Benefits Agency.
NASS works with reception assistants (from voluntary organisations) at ports of entry to provide subsistence support and accommodation. Asylum seekers may apply for a ‘subsistence only’ package if they wish to stay with family or friends. If they are eligible for support, asylum seekers will be ‘dispersed’ to language cluster areas. Travel arrangements are made by NASS.
Previously provided vouchers, but now provides cash. There is different levels of support or single people, married couples and children.
Currently there are two methods to access cash support: the ‘receipt book method’ and the ‘smart card method’. Asylum seekers present their ARC or receipt book at a designated Post Office and receive cash.
From 23 July 2002, asylum seekrs are no longer allowed to apply for work.
Additionally, from 8 January 2003, in-country asylum applicants will not receive support entitlement, except where special issues are identified. This poses as a possible route for indirect discrimination against Deaf applicants, but there is no redress under discrimination legislation.
Judicial Review is a essential process of administrative law. It is where an applicant asks for the High Court to rule on the appropriateness of an administrative agency. A distinctive feature of judicial review is that the “appeal” is not usually limited to errors in law but may be based on alleged errors on the part of the administrative agency on findings of fact.
A distinguishing feature of judicial review is that it reviews the process of the decision making and not the decision itself, therefore it is not really an appeal. Government minister’s decisions can, and often are, judicially reviewed. This includes the process undertaken in respect of asylum applications, and in the course of findings of fact, and this could include whether appropriate access to language took place, to ensure the correct facts were obtained.
However, whilst it could be a vital redress mechanism in the case of asylum applications; an application for Judicial Review, is not supported by funds from the Legal Services Commission, and appeal must be made outside the UK. This can prove problematic for Deaf clients, in the sense that they may not be able to access written or spoken languages outside the UK, in terms of communication support, or have sufficient command over a language that has been written. This proves problematic in the sense that a Deaf applicant could be indirectly discriminated against, because of simple lack of access in their home country.