Supreme Court rules 'fresh claim' asylum seekers should be allowed to work - Refugee Council
July 28, 2010

Supreme Court rules ‘fresh claim’ asylum seekers should be allowed to work

Today, the Refugee Council has welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to allow a Somali asylum seeker permission to work, in the case of ZO. In a landmark ruling, the Court recognised that people who have submitted new evidence to support their claim for asylum (a ‘fresh claim’), and who have waited longer than 12 months for a Home Office decision on their initial claim, should be given permission to work.

This is because they are included within the scope of the EU Reception Directive from the time their application is sent – a provision of the Reception Directive is that an asylum seeker can apply for permission to work if they have not had an initial decision on their claim from the Home Office after 12 months. It also means that those who have made a fresh asylum claim are eligible for asylum support rather being left destitute.

The Refugee Council regretted that the previous Secretary of State decided to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision on this case, which was made in April last year. Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the Secretary of State’s arguments that a fresh application for asylum does not fall within the Reception Directive and that to allow it to do so would lead to an increase in unmerited fresh applications being made.

Jonathan Ellis, Director of Policy and Development at the Refugee Council said:
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to accept that an asylum seeker who has submitted a fresh claim for asylum should be given permission to work after they have waited twelve months for a decision on their claim. The appeal by the former Secretary of State against the Court of Appeal’s decision that this person should be allowed to work, has wasted valuable time and resources at time when asylum seekers should have been supported to get on with their lives rather than face destitution.

“The vast majority of asylum seekers who come to the UK would rather support themselves through work than be forced to be homeless or to rely on Government support. Denying asylum seekers the chance to work means they cannot contribute to the UK economy and condemns asylum seekers and their families to abject poverty. We would urge the government to ensure those who have submitted fresh claims for asylum will now be granted support and permission to work under this ruling immediately.”

Click here to see the full judgment.