To get the best experience of this website, we recommend you upgrade your browser.

Upgrade your Internet Explorer

Durham County Council

Page location

Asylum and immigration


An asylum seeker is someone who comes to the UK; often fleeing persecution, torture or war; and applies for refugee status.

Until refugee status is granted, such a person remains an asylum seeker. Asylum seekers often encounter homelessness and face difficulty in obtaining accommodation.

Prior to 1999 the council had a statutory responsibility to offer assistance to asylum seekers under the National Assistance Act of 1948. Councils also had a duty to provide accommodation and benefits to asylum seekers whilst they awaited the outcome of their case with the Home Office.

However, following changes in the law due to the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999, asylum seekers that arrive after April 2000 no longer have a right to assistance and do not have to be provided for by the council. Instead, the Home Office provides support through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS).

We administer the various benefits asylum seekers are entitled to and also make provisions for temporary accommodation.

For further information or advice about asylum seekers, please contact your nearest housing provider.