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8 Claiming Asylum
5. What can I live on while I am waiting?
If you have no money you can usually claim support while your case is considered. This scheme is run by the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). Children who are applying on their own are dealt with differently - they get support from local councils.
The Home Office may refuse you support if it thinks you have not applied for asylum as soon as you should have. If you are refused support for this reason, you will not be able to appeal against the decision, but you should get advice as soon as possible.
Applying for support
You can apply for accommodation (housing), financial support (money), or both. You will be given support only if you are 'destitute' (have no money). If you have any money or NASS believes you can get some, you will have to live on that before it will give you support.
If you are refused support, or if your support is taken away before your asylum application has been finally decided, you can appeal to the independent asylum support adjudicators. You will be given an appeal form if you are refused support. You can get free legal help to prepare your appeal (see 'Further help') but not to represent you at the hearing. There may be a legal representative who can help you free of charge when you go to the hearing.
What you can get
Where you will be housed
If you are sent somewhere else, you won't have a choice of where you go. Each part of the country has a 'one-stop service' that should be able to give you advice and help, and you should be put in touch with it.
If you don't want to be dispersed, you will probably only be able to get support, and not accommodation. You'll have to find somewhere to stay yourself (with friends, for example).
When support stops
If your household includes children, you can get support from your local council. However, this may be stopped if the Home Office thinks you are not helping with arrangements to send you back to your country, for example by not making a proper application for a passport from your embassy. Otherwise, you may get help only if you have special medical needs - if you do, your local council should help with these costs.
This leaflet was written in association with the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and Mick Chatwin, a barrister and solicitor specialising in immigration law.
Leaflet version: April 2016