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Government refuses to relax asylum seeker right to work rules


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The Home Office has knocked back campaigners arguing for a relaxation of the near-total ban on asylum seekers working while they wait for a decision on their claim. The Lift the Ban coalition had produced evidence showing that allowing destitute people to support themselves is good, not least for the Treasury. Officials took three years to respond (spun as a “comprehensive review”) and concluded that “the assumptions underpinning the recommendations are highly optimistic”.

In a written statement, junior minister Tom Pursglove said:

Having considered a wide range of available evidence the Home Office believes that a more realistic set of assumptions would present a more nuanced picture…  a significant proportion of the fiscal benefits calculated by Lift the Ban are… unlikely to fully materialise…

The Home Office has therefore concluded that the fiscal benefits arising from a relaxation of the right to work policy are likely to be significantly lower than the figures claimed by Lift the Ban. In light of wider priorities to fix the broken asylum system, reduce pull factors to the UK, and ensure our policies do not encourage people to undercut the resident labour force, we are retaining our asylum seeker right to work policy with no further changes.

The average time taken to process an asylum claim last year was 15 months. People waiting for more than 12 months can apply for the right to work, but in shortage jobs only. The number of people given permission is unknown, as is the number who subsequently find employment.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.