Rayhan Ahmed Topader:
Under current rules, asylum seekers can only work after waiting at least 12 months for their claim to be processed. Even then, they can only take roles on the government’s shortage occupation list, which includes nurses but otherwise mainly experienced or highly specific roles such as ballet dancers, orchestral musicians and oil and gas engineers.A group of actors, artists and other notable figures including Jodie Whittaker, Jude Law, Anna Friel and Antony Gormley have made a joint appeal to the government to relax the strict laws barring people seeking asylum in the UK from paid work.The issue we want to see action on feels so urgent, so plainly unjust, and so easy to reconcile that we have been compelled to speak out, they said.While the Home Office aims to process asylum applications within six months, about half take longer. In the interim, people have to either rely on assistance or try and subsist on a government allowance of £5.39 a day.The letter, organised by the actors Juliet Stevenson and Jamie Bamber, said the result of the policy is that most asylum seekers are forced into poverty, destitution and homelessness Their skills are wasted, their individual life ambitions stunted, their days confined to either the four walls of their accommodation or to the streets they sleep on, it said. The letter called for the rules to be changed so asylum seekers can take any job after six months.
This is the position advocated by a campaign called Lift the Ban, made up of 80 organisations including non-profits, thinktanks, businesses and faith groups. In October, the shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said Labour was backing this six-month policy.The letter, signatories to which also include the actors Olivia Williams, Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson, as well as the lawyers Helena Kennedy and Philippe Sands, said the current policy harmed the UK as well as those denied work. We are denying this country the immense skills, aptitude and talents of the people who reach our shores. We are preventing people seeking asylum from integrating with and contributing to our communities. Britain has a proud history of embracing people from different backgrounds, but that history is being undermined by our government’s policy on asylum, it said. We urge the government to heed the calls of the more than 160 charities, businesses and faith groups who have called on them to lift the ban on work for people seeking asylum, and in so doing create a stronger Britain, a more diverse workforce and prosperous communities. The immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, has said there is “much merit” to the idea of changing the current system, but ministers need to consider any changes very carefully.The plan to curb low-skilled immigration was seized upon by Manfred Weber, the German leader of the centre-right EPP group and a leading candidate to be the next European commission president.
UK’s plan to end free movement illustrated the need to stay united against attempts to pick off the benefits of EU membership.Juncker also expressed concerns over the state of negotiations, telling MEPs: We will have an interesting meeting [at the October summit] as far as Brexit is concerned. We want a deal. Those who think a no deal would be the better solution are not aware of the difficulties that such a scenario would imply.And when it comes to the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, we are sticking to the point of view that we have expressed so many times. Ireland first. Senior EU figures have attacked Theresa May’s post-Brexit immigration plan with the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, signalling that he expects a row with the British prime minister at an upcoming moment of truth summit. As May sketched out her plans to end freedom of movement and adopt a skills-based migration policy during a Tuesday morning tour of radio and TV studios, there were demands for a tit-for-tat response during a debate in the European parliament.It was not about “punishment”, Weber said, but leaving the EU would have to mean less growth, less certainty, for the UK and the Brexiters would now have to face the consequences. Brexit means leaving the EU and this means losing the advantages of this union and that is the simple principle, Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said: We will never accept discrimination based on skills and on nationality.
I believe the majority of people in the UK now know they’re being led down the wrong path and it was a major error to make this decision to leave the community, a major error that the next generation in the UK will suffer from most severely if this is not remedied. If this government fails, and it looks like that, I think the British have a right to say their views on that directly. That’s the message that we must convey in these negotiations. The leader of Labour’s MEPs. Richard Corbett, agreed, saying: People have a right to say this is not what we were told, this is not what we were promised. The issue of Brexit in Britain is not settled. There is still a struggle going on to make sure we are not led over a cliff edge.
Johnson’s recent calls for a bridge to be built between the island of Ireland and Great Britain were described as insane by Verhofstadt, who said the former cabinet minister was more comfortable in burning bridges. On Hunt, who compared the EU with the Soviet Union in his party conference speech recently, Verhofstadt added: But in his case that is not so abnormal he has once even confused Japan with China so that is not a first time that this is happening. For many of us this will be the first time we have used our platform to make a direct call on the government, but the issue we want to see action on feels so urgent, so plainly unjust, and so easy to reconcile, that we have been compelled to speak out.As it stands people seeking asylum in the UK are banned from working until one year after they have made their claim for asylum, and only then after being granted permission to work by the government.
And in the extremely unlikely event they can fill one of the positions on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list. an absurdly narrow selection of jobs that includes such things as classical ballet dancer and nuclear waste worker.The result is that most are forced into poverty, destitution and homelessness. They rely on the £5.39 per day granted to them by the Home Office but this is plainly not enough for anyone to live off, let alone build a life around. Their skills are wasted, their individual life ambitions stunted, their days confined to either the four walls of their accommodation or to the streets they sleep on. The victims of this illogical policy are the people seeking asylum, but Britain is suffering, too. We are denying this country the immense skills, aptitude and talents of the people who reach our shores. We are preventing people seeking asylum from integrating with and contributing to our communities. Britain has a proud history of embracing people from different backgrounds but that history is being undermined by our government’s policy on asylum. We urge the government to heed the calls of the more than 150 charities, businesses and faith groups who have called on it to lift the ban on work for people seeking asylum and in so doing create a stronger Britain, a more diverse workforce, and prosperous communities.There are countless human examples demonstrating that the capacity to work to aid integration and to promote good mental health amongst those seeking asylum is a good thing.
Spelman’s comments come after the Lift the Ban coalition, made up of 80 groups including non-profit organisations, thinktanks, businesses and faith groups, launched a campaign to change the rules.Its campaign launch report estimates that if half of the 11,000 asylum seekers aged 18 or over who are waiting on a decision were able to work full time on the national average wage, the government would receive £31.6m a year from their tax and national insurance contributions (NICs). It would also save £10.8m on the cash support it provides to those seeking asylum. At the low end of its estimates, Lift the Ban says a net contribution to the economy of £9.2m is possible. Members of the public would be broadly supportive of lifting the ban on work, according to polling by the thinktank British Future, which found 71% agreed it would help integration if asylum seekers were allowed to work after six months waiting for their claim to be processed. The immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, said she was considering some of the arguments, but cautioned that the government would have to take a balanced approach.I am listening very carefully to this argument, I think there is much merit in it. This is a multifaceted and complex issue and I’m looking forward to further discussions with both members and NGO colleagues, and I remain very much receptive to the views and evidence presented to me on the right to work.I do think it’s important to recognise there’s a balance to be struck and to make sure we make the right decisions.
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