Facts about refugees in the UK - Breaking Barriers
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Facts about refugees in the UK

It's easy to feel confused when there is so much disinformation in the media - here are the most up to date facts and statistics about the UK's refugee community

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The global picture

At the end of 2022 108.4 million people worldwide had been displaced from their homes as a result of violence or persecution. 

The majority (76%) of the world’s refugees and other people in need of international protection are currently living in low- and middle-income countries (with the largest proportions living in Turkey, Iran, Colombia, Germany, and Pakistan).  

Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

As of November 2022 there were 231,597 refugees, 127,421 pending asylum cases and 5,483 stateless persons in the UK. The war in Ukraine has driven a large increase from the previous year, when there were an estimated 135,000 refugees.

Over 70,000 people claimed asylum in 2022. Just over 23,000 have been granted right to remain in the country so far.

Of the top 10 nationalities applying for asylum, half have a grant rate above 80% (Afghanistan 98%, Iran 80%, Syria 99%, Eritrea 98%, and Sudan 84%).

On average, our clients waited nearly 3 years to hear the outcome of their cases. While they wait, most asylum seekers are not permitted to work, cannot choose where they live, and rely on government cash grants equivalent to £5.84 per day for food, sanitation and clothing.

Alternatively, many asylum seekers end up in detention centres, where conditions for them can be extremely challenging. Over 23,000 people were placed in detention centres in 2022.

Barriers to employment for refugees

Refugees living in the UK face a variety of barriers to employment, including:

  • employment gaps on CVs due to the lengthy asylum process
  • lack of UK work experience
  • limited understanding of the UK job market and no professional networks
  • non-recognition of qualifications
  • language barriers
  • cultural differences
  • public misconceptions and discrimination.

84% of refugees reported that they did not have sufficient English language ability to get a job. Support with these issues is very limited – in some places waiting lists for English classes are two years long, and the majority of those in classes say that the classes they are doing are not sufficient to learn the language. 

As a result, refugees in the UK are 4 times more likely to be unemployed than people born here, and on average earn about half the amount per week that UK nationals do. This is despite high levels of qualifications and skills (38% of refugees from Syria living in the UK have a university degree, for example). 

  • 231 k

    There were 231,597 refugees in the UK in 2022

  • 70 k

    over 70,000 people claimed asylum in the UK in 2022

  • 130 k

    There are nearly 130,000 pending asylum applications in the UK

  • 3

    Our clients wait on average for three years for their refugee status to be granted

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The reality

Go beyond the numbers and data, and follow five refugees as they start new lives and navigate temporary accommodation, employment, love, family and education in the UK.

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