I strongly support the campaign to relax this unnecessary and unhelpful restriction on asylum seekers working in the United Kingdom. Labour’s position is that all people seeking asylum who have waited six months for a resolution on their asylum application should be able to work, unrestrained by the Home Office shortage occupation list.
I provide extensive support, with my constituency office team, to people seeking asylum on a daily basis and I hold a weekly immigration and asylum clinic from 11 am onwards every Wednesday morning so I see the problems and the hardship that the current UK Government policy causes. I also regularly see people seeking asylum who have had to wait way beyond the six months for their applications to be determined so the fact that the Home Office’s own figures show that only 52% of claims are resolved within that timescale target, does not surprise me.
At the moment people seeking asylum can only work if they’ve been waiting for more than a year for their application to be determined and are applying to work in a “shortage occupation” for example, as a classical ballet dancer or geophysicist.
The impact of this policy is that people seeking asylum have to spend many months, often years, living in unsatisfactory, overcrowded and unsafe temporary accommodation with negligible amounts of money to survive. These conditions, combined with social isolation, added to the fact of having fled their home and country under traumatic circumstances, contributes to high levels of loneliness and mental health problems. People seeking asylum regularly end up being exploited on the employment black market.
I have raised these issues with the Government repeatedly since you elected me as your MP in May 2015 and I will continue to do so.