Update: 25 October 2018.
Conservative MP Dame Caroline Spelman secured a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 24 October 2018 “That this House has considered asylum seekers’ right to work”.
You can read a full transcript of the debate via Hansard.
There was a very open response by the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes MP that included:
- Acknowledgement of the importance of work not only for economic reasons but also for people’s physical and mental support and community integration;
- That she is aware of the “complexities around the pull factor” argument;
- That she is “listening very carefully” to the arguments on right to work, that they have “much merit”, and is “looking forward” to further discussion.
Change to Labour Party policy
Following the debate, Diane Abbott MP announced that the Labour Party was making it official policy for people seeking asylum to have the right to work after six months, unconstrained by the shortage occupation list.
The Times published a comment piece in the Red Box section by Conservative MP Caroline Spelman in support of #LiftTheBan.
The Telegraph published a letter from religious leaders in support of #LiftTheBan:
SIR – No one will disagree that people who are fleeing war or persecution should be given somewhere safe, where they can rebuild their lives. But due to Government policy, getting here is only the start of their problems for many people who arrive in Britain.
Banned from working, asylum seekers are given just £5.39 a day to meet all their essential living costs.
The struggle to make ends meet, coupled with the social isolation experienced by many, takes a toll on their physical and mental health.
We must ensure we provide a route out of poverty for those seeking asylum. Enabling people to work gives them the dignity of being able to provide for themselves and their families. They can also use their skills to contribute to the economy.
As leaders of religious communities representing diverse faiths and belief systems, what unites us is compassion.
We welcome the efforts of the Lift the Ban coalition and believe it is time asylum seekers were allowed to start working in the UK six months after their arrival.
Ahead of today’s Westminster Hall debate, we call on the Government to make this common sense change.
Bala Gnanapragasam, Vice-president, Methodist Conference
Dr Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Imam Qari Asim, Chair, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and 13 others.
#LiftTheBan campaign seeks to give people seeking asylum the right to work. It has been launched by a coalition of over 80 non-profit organisations, think tanks, businesses and faith groups. These include the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, Salvation Army, United Reformed Church and the CTBI Churches’ Refugee Network (CRN).
People seeking asylum in the UK are only able to apply for the right to work after they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over a year. Even then, the few people who are granted permission are rarely able to work in practice because their employment is restricted to the narrow list of highly- skilled professions on the Government’s Shortage Occupation List.
This means that people are essentially banned from working whilst they wait months, and often years, for a decision on their asylum claim. Instead they are left to live on just £5.39 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families, while their talents are wasted and their integration set back.
As well as benefiting those seeking asylum, a change in policy could benefit the UK economy through net gains for the Government of £42.4 million.
Sign the petition
Those who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance possible of contributing to our society and integrating into their new communities. This means giving people seeking asylum the right to work so that they can use their skills and live in dignity.
Sign the petition and tell the Home Secretary to #LiftTheBan!
Find out more on the #LiftTheBan website.
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