CUTS to groups providing support to asylum seekers in Oxford will end up costing taxpayers more, charities warned last night.

Groups which support the county’s 2,000 refugees say that if support to people fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran is cut, social services and the NHS will have to pick up the bill.

Many asylum seekers have escaped torture, war, or abuse at the hands of brutal regimes to get to the UK.

But Government funding cuts have caused the closure of one Oxford charity – The Bridging Project, which helped young refugees access education – and two other Oxford groups have had to scale back their services.

Asylum Welcome, which works with 1,800 asylum seekers a year, lost £34,000 – 17 per cent – of its funding in April.

The money from Oxfordshire County Council, had been used to support 13 to 19-year-old asylum seekers.

Refugee Resource, which helps 250 people, has lost its £40,000 a year contract to provide counselling, mentoring and employment support to refugees and asylum seekers.

And nationally, the Refugee council is facing a 60 per cent cut to frontline services.

Amanda Webb-Johnson, director of Refugee Resource, in Cowley Road, said: “There is no longer the infrastructure to support small and medium sized charities. Traditional sources of funding are drying up.

“The risk is that we will see other problems escalating, and more people unemployed and not contributing to the community.

“We do a lot of positive work, particularly with the counselling, to prevent serious mental health problems from developing further.

“Without that, there is the possibility that people will end up in mental health services.”

Saeeda Imaan, whose youth work post at Asylum Welcome was made redundant as a result of the cuts, said: “We could see huge knock-on effects on other services in the area as a result of these cuts. We have already seen it here with young people.”

Many of the estimated 2,000 refugees in Oxford come from some of the most troubled parts of the world, including Iraq, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea.

Ms Imaan said: “Young people come here with no family or friends. Some are left in motorway service stations and others are picked up by the police.

“They come from war-torn countries, they may be torture victims, or had their parents killed in front of them. Some have suffered sexual abuse. They are not coming here for the sake of it, but for real reasons.”