This week Refugee Council, as part of a coalition of 88 organisations called upon the government to change its rules on allowing people seeking asylum to seek work once they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for six months or more.
The current ban on people seeking work was imposed at a time when the government aimed to make decisions on applicants’ claims within six months. Almost half of all those seeking asylum now have to wait longer than that and many are waiting more than a year. That’s a long time to live on a meagre allowance of just over £5 a day.
Most people are willing to work and many have skills that would benefit UK society as well as providing more dignity for the individuals concerned. We know from our work with refugees that people begin to lose their skills as well as their confidence. Indeed, a report published as part of the campaign shows that allowing people to work would enable people to integrate better once they receive status. It can provide people with a sense of purpose and enable them to contribute towards the UK economy.
Speaking on behalf of the Refugee Council Director of Advocacy and Engagement Lisa Doyle said
“Not allowing people to work just doesn’t make sense. It’s hard enough for those waiting for long periods for the Home Office to make a decision on their claim for protection. Forcing them to feel useless as well as live on government support leaves people isolated and is very likely to delay their integration in the future. This campaign is asking the government to use its common sense and lift the current restrictions”.
The campaign is supported by the Trades Union Congress and many businesses as well as campaigning organisations.