As the refugee crisis bites, asylum charities face lower funding




Refugee charities face a growing burden as asylum applications rise and public funding falls. Philanthropists can make a real difference, according to new analysis by think tank NPC.

NPC’s new paper, Solutions for sanctuary, looks at the scale of the problems tackled by some of the UK’s largest refugee charities. Looking at the support available to refugees amid worsening crises in Syria and elsewhere, it warns of ‘high and rising levels of need, and diminishing funding’ for charities, and finds:

  • The two biggest national charities dedicated to refugees, Refugee Council and Refugee Action, have reported substantial falls in public funding. This is despite the growing number of asylum applications in the UK, which rose by 30 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
  • The burden for looking after refugees falls mainly on small, community-based group, which do crucial work at a local level but face precarious finances with incomes of less than £100,000 each year.
  • Charities warn that support and donations for their work may drop further if the refugee crisis disappears from the headlines.

Solutions for sanctuary identifies 900 charities working with refugees in England and Wales with a combined income of £97m, helping on issues from specialist legal advice and counselling to campaigning and integration.

Nearly 8 out of 10 refugee charities are small organisations with an income under £100,000. Just 1 per cent of refugee charities have over £1m, compared with 3 per cent of the charity sector as a whole.

Plum Lomax, Deputy Head of the Funder Team at NPC and co-author of Solutions for sanctuary, said:

‘Families fleeing violence and persecution are on our TV screens every evening. Yet UK charities working with refugees face significant financial pressures. Traditionally this work attracts relatively little private philanthropy, so refugee charities feel the loss of public funding especially strongly.

‘There is an opportunity here for donors who want to make an impact. At their most effective, refugee charities transform people’s lives, and help them start again in safety in the UK. Smart philanthropy can make this possible in the future‘.

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