Protest message claims that asylum seekers in the UK receive a substantially higher weekly allowance from the British government than do British pensioners.
The claims in the message are untrue. In fact, asylum seekers who come to the UK do not receive more financial assistance from the British government than British pensioners do. The payment figures quoted in the message are not accurate. The rumour is a UK based version of earlier and equally false messages that have circulated in Canada, the US and Australia.
Subject: FW: Pensioners v Asylum seekers
So ‘Pathetically’ True …
OH BRITAIN ~ ABOUT RIGHT!!
We’re “broke” & can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless etc.,?????????
Are you aware of the following?
The British Government provides the following financial assistance: –
NOW YOU KNOW WHY PENSIONERS ARE UP IN ARMS
|BENEFIT||BRITISH OLD AGED PENSIONER||ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS / REFUGEES LIVING IN BRITAIN|
|Weekly Spouse allowance||£25||£225|
|Additional weekly hardship allowance||£0;00||£100|
|TOTAL YEARLY BENEFIT||£6,000||£29,900|
If I was a refugee, why would I look for work?
Please forward to all your contacts so that we can lobby for an increase in the old-age pension.
After all, the average pensioner has paid taxes and contributed to the growth of this country for the last 40 to 60 years.
According to this widely circulated protest message, an asylum seeker (refugee) in the UK is eligible to receive a much higher weekly benefit payment from the British government than do aged pensioners who have lived and worked in the country for years before retirement. It decries this apparent disparity in benefit amounts as unfair to British pensioners. The claims in the message have caused much consternation among British citizens.
However, the claims in the message are untrue. The refugee payment figures stated in the protest message bear no relation whatsoever to the amounts actually payed to refugees. In fact, the message is nothing more than a UK specific version of an email hoax that has circulated in Australia, the US and Canada for several years. The rumour first began circulating in 2004 after an inaccurate and misleading letter to the editor was published in a Canadian newspaper.
This initial Canadian version was dismissed as a hoax by government entity Citizenship and Immigration Canada and other credible sources. Unfortunately, the false protest message later spawned other, equally spurious, versions set in several different countries.
As early as 2007, an Australian version of the hoax was circulating. The message caused a great deal of anger and resentment among recipients and has been discussed at length on various talk-back radio shows and in letters to the editor in newspapers across the country. However, the information in the Australian version of the message is also total nonsense and in no way reflects the real level of entitlements for refugees or pensioners in Australia. The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship was compelled to publish information refuting the false rumours.
And the UK government has also published information dismissing the UK version of the protest email as false. A briefing paper available on the UK Parliament website denounces the claims in the message as a hoax, noting in part (PDF)
The email contains text from a protest email which has been circulating in Australia for some time now, but which may have originated in Canada. Versions also circulate in the United States, and elements even appear in protest emails as far afield as India. The UK version has been adapted, somewhat crudely, for a domestic audience by someone or some organisation unknown. The figures quoted bear no relation whatsoever to the situation in the United Kingdom.
The briefing paper also provides details about the actual entitlements for UK pensioners and those seeking asylum in the UK:
Actual entitlements for people from abroad and UK pensioners
“Illegal immigrants” are people who have entered the UK unlawfully, or who have stayed here for longer than they were allowed without making another application. They do not have the right to work. Since they are in the UK without legal status, they are liable to be removed if they come to the attention of immigration authorities.
People who require leave to enter or remain in the UK, but who do not have it, are ‘persons subject to immigration control’ within the meaning of section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and as such are not eligible for social security benefits, except those which depend on National Insurance contributions, such as contribution-based JSA. However, it is highly unlikely that a person in the UK without legal status will have a sufficient NI contribution record to gain entitlement to contributory benefits.
“Refugees” – i.e. asylum seekers whose application for asylum has been successful – are able to claim social security benefits and tax credits on the same basis as UK nationals, but may find it difficult to gain entitlement to contributory benefits since these depend upon the person having a sufficient contribution record.
The figures in the final column of the table in the email bear no relation to any UK out-of-work benefit rates. The current rate of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, for example, is £65.45 a week for a single person aged 25 or over, or £102.75 for a couple. People in receipt of out-of-work benefits may also receive Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, but the table does not mention assistance with housing costs.
Asylum seekers – i.e. persons waiting for a decision on an asylum application – are not entitled to mainstream non-contributory social security benefits including income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support and Housing Benefit. Instead, they may be eligible for accommodation and/or financial support from the UK Border Agency. Cash support for asylum seekers is less generous than social security benefits; for example, a single person.
Thus this protest email is nothing more than a British version of an utterly false rumour that began life in Canada and has since spread around the world. Regardless of your views on the handling of refugees, spreading such misinformation will help no one and will serve only to muddy the waters of what is often a complex and contentious issue. If you receive a version of this hoax please do not forward it to others. And please take a moment to let the sender know that the information in the protest message is untrue.