Many refugees are set to lose out on English language classes under new guidelines put forward by the government for the next academic year. From August, funding for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses will be restricted to people on ‘active benefits’ – that is people actively looking for work. Refugees on income support such as parents, carers or elderly people, as well as those on low incomes, will be exempt from funding.
The Refugee Council is putting pressure on the government to ensure that all refugees who need English language support can get it. Facing persecution, refugees are forced to leave their country to seek protection and often do not have any control over the country in which they find this safety. For many, arriving in the UK means having to cope with a new language, along with a very different society, job market, and wider culture. Access to ESOL is therefore crucial for refugees so they can find and progress in work and contribute fully to British society.
Jonathan Ellis, Director of Advocacy at the Refugee Council said:
“Access to ESOL courses is essential for refugees rebuilding their lives in the UK. It is unacceptable that many will lose out on funding under the new policy, including the most vulnerable and those already in work.
“The government must acknowledge that many refugees have fled conflict and persecution in their own countries, usually with very little time to prepare. The UK has given these people refuge, so it is crucial they are supported to learn English not only to enable them to find employment, but also to ease their integration into the wider community so they can fully participate in British life.”
The Refugee Council has also joined a campaign to fight for and defend ESOL from the current round of cuts to the education sector. Add your name to the petition here today.
Guardian: Funding cuts threaten English lessons