Lift the Ban on people seeking asylum working

The Lift the Ban coalition is calling for the right to work for people seeking asylum, and their adult dependants, after six months of having lodged an asylum claim or further submission, unconstrained by the Shortage Occupation List.

People currently seeking asylum in the UK are effectively prohibited from working. They can only apply to the Home Office for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over twelve months and only for jobs that are on the Government’s restrictive Shortage Occupation List.

Instead of being able to take paid employment, they have just £5.39 per day, to live on and support themselves and their families. It’s a waste of talent.

We think that’s wrong. We believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance of contributing to our society and integrating into our communities. This means giving people seeking asylum the right to work so that they can use their skills and live in dignity.

A Guardian article about the campaign explains that “the Home Office aims to process all initial asylum claims within six months, but in reality 48% go beyond that target.”

Lift the Ban argue that this change would

  • would help integration, allowing people to improve their English, acquire new skills and make friends and social contacts;
  • has strong public support (71% in the latest opinion poll);
  • would bring the UK in line with other countries – almost all other rich countries give people the opportunity to support themselves at an earlier stage and with fewer restrictions.

Lift the Ban’s report estimates that if 50% of people who are currently waiting more than six months for a decision on their initial asylum application were able to work full time on the national average wage, the Government would receive an extra £31.6 million per year from their tax and National Insurance contributions. If they are moved off subsistence (cash) support but retain support for accommodation, the Government would save £10.8 million per year.

That’s a net gain for the UK Government of £42.4m.

The Lift the Ban coalition is made up of 80 organisations including faith groups, NGOs and businesses. You can read more on the websitesign the online petition and download the activism pack.

Faith leaders wrote to newspapers to back the Lift the Ban campaign, calling on the UK Government to “make this common sense change”.