Rules could be changed to remove taxpayer support for more than 10,000 failed asylum seekers living in Britain with their families, a Home Office minister has said.
At present, migrants can obtain accommodation and a £36-a-week support allowance from the moment they claim asylum in the UK. The support is withdrawn from individuals whose application fails, but those with families continue to receive help.
Now a consultation is being launched to find ways to remove support from failed asylum-seeking families, while ensuring mechanisms are in place to protect children.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: "The UK has a proud history of offering sanctuary to those who need it, but failed asylum seekers who refuse to return home are illegal migrants, plain and simple.
"The current system shouldn't offer any perverse incentives for illegal migrants to lodge spurious asylum applications or encourage those without genuine claims for humanitarian protection to prolong their stay in the UK. It's unfair to those in genuine need of asylum and migrants who abide by our rules as well as to hard-working British taxpayers.
"I want to introduce new rules to support those who genuinely need it, but send out a very clear message to those who seek to exploit the system that Britain is not a soft touch on asylum."
There are currently just over 10,000 failed asylum seekers in family groups being supported under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, while a further 4,000 individual failed asylum seekers are supported under Section 4(2) of the Act.
The Government will also consult on repealing Section 4(2), while ensuring that adequate support remains for "those who genuinely need it", for example in cases where real obstacles are preventing their departure from the UK.