Asylum seekers have generated new jobs and economic growth in Glasgow, according to a report by economists at the University of Strathclyde.
The £40m Home Office benefits given to the 5,000 asylum seekers in Glasgow each year is spent mainly on local on goods and services. Experts at the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde estimated the impact resulted in the creation of nearly 500 jobs and £10m worth of wages, mostly for Glasgow.
The report was carried out for the local government body, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), who said that they hoped the findings would encourage other councils to welcome asylum seeker populations.
The report also indicated that asylum seekers could help plug Scotland’s population shortfall because they tend to be educated and under 34.
A spokesperson for the Refugee Council said:
“All the research shows that we are missing out on the enormous potential contribution asylum seekers could be making to the UK economy. Not only do asylum seekers overwhelmingly want to work, but they are often very highly skilled and could fill some of the current skills shortages.
“Allowing asylum seekers to work would also go a long way to countering some of the negative perceptions of asylum seekers and help them to integrate better into their local community.
“More needs to be done as well to tackle the ongoing problem facing refugees who are allowed to work. Too often, you find highly skilled refugees doing menial, poorly-paid low-skilled jobs. Better access to English language classes, and improved information for employers on the rights of refugees to work, would be a good start.”
The report comes as the government is considering new policy on dealing with asylum seekers.
A statement from Tony Mc Nulty, the Immigration Minister that no accommodation centres will be built for asylum seekers and that the one site in Bicester that had received planning permission will become a centre for failed asylum seekers awaiting removal.
In response to this news, Maeve Sherlock, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“It is much better to house asylum seekers within the community – it leads to better community relations and helps integration for those who are finally allowed to stay.
“We are concerned about plans to increase the use of detention. Depriving someone of his or her liberty is a serious step and should only be taken as a last resort and where there is clear evidence to justify it.”