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Lift the Ban coalition says allowing asylum seekers to work is common sense as the UK rebuilds from Covid-19 crisis


Updated report finds policy change would boost economy by £97.8 million per year

Date of Publication:
04 August 2020

Lift the Ban coalition says allowing asylum seekers to work is common sense as the UK rebuilds from Covid-19 crisis

04 August 2020

The Lift the Ban coalition last week published an updated version of its report on why people seeking asylum should have the right to work.

housesYou can read the 32-page report here (the original 2018 version of the report is here).

According to the updated report, allowing asylum seekers to work could benefit the UK economy by almost £100 million per year.

The coalition says: "We calculate that a change in policy would result in an economic gain of £97.8 million per year for the UK Government, as a result of additional tax revenues and savings. This is based on the amount that the Government would save by not having to provide subsistence (cash) support to people, plus the extra money received by the exchequer through payroll contributions from income tax and National Insurance."

The updated report argues that lifting the ban on asylum seekers working makes even more sense now as the UK tackles the major economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report states:

"We believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance possible of contributing to our society and integrating into their new communities. As the UK seeks to build back better from Covid-19 and protect itself from the consequences of an unprecedented economic crisis, lifting restrictions on the right to work for people seeking asylum would both ensure the UK benefits from the expertise of a diverse workforce and provide significant savings for the public purse. In other words, lifting the ban is common sense."

It continues:

"The Covid-19 crisis has exposed not only how reliant we are on the skills and effort of each other but also the importance of feeling able to contribute to society at large. As such, it threw into sharp relief the absurdity of preventing people seeking asylum from sharing their talents. The ban on working has never made sense but it seems particularly self-defeating in the face of a global pandemic.

"In May 2020 the Lift the Ban coalition carried out a skills audit with people seeking asylum. Almost half of respondents (45%) reported previous occupations that would fall into the Government's definition of 'critical worker' during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 1 in 7 having worked in health or social care. Demonstrating their commitment to contributing to the emergency effort, 77% reported wanting to or having already volunteered to help the NHS."

The Lift the Ban coalition concludes that the arguments for lifting the ban on working have become increasingly compelling: "Allowing people to work would give them the opportunity to live in a dignified manner while they wait for a decision on their asylum application, a process that can sometimes extend into years. It would also mean that people can maximise their potential and contribute to the UK economy and their communities. For those who end up leaving, this would give them a greater likelihood of being able to rebuild their lives elsewhere; for those who stay, their chances of being able to successfully integrate into their new communities would be far greater."