Let people seeking asylum work, says U.K. Migration Advisory Committee

Let people seeking asylum work, says U.K. Migration Advisory Committee

  • Published on
    December 16, 2021
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  • Category:
    Law & Policy
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The United Kingdom should lift the employment ban for people seeking asylum, according to the government’s migration advisory body.  

One week after the U.K. Home Office decided to keep the ban, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released a report stating that there is “clear evidence” of the harm this policy causes. It added there is “little evidence,” to their knowledge, of any real benefits from the ban. 

The ban is harmful to the economy and to asylum applicants 

Current restrictions prohibit people seeking asylum in the U.K. from working, except for those who have been waiting over a year for a decision on their application. However, even in such cases, they are only allowed to take jobs on the extremely limited Shortage Occupation List.  

The MAC report argues that the ban is harmful, and that this harm is compounded by the rising number of people who are having to wait over six months for an initial decision. 

On the other hand, MAC chairperson, Professor Brian Bell, has said that lifting the ban would help people seeking asylum to enter the labor market and build their skills progressively. There would also be “significant and long-lasting” benefits for the U.K.’s economy, according to Professor Bell.

The Home Office fails to provide sufficient evidence to back up its decision 

The Home Office has partially based its decision to keep the ban on an assumption for which no clear evidence has been provided. 

The Independent reports: 

Last week, the Home Office published the long-waited findings of its review into the policy, concluding that the ban must remain in place in order to “reduce pull factors to the UK, and ensure our policies do not encourage people to undercut the resident labour force”. 

However, the findings were published in the form of a written parliamentary statement, and were not accompanied by a full report or evidence to support them. 

Professor Brian Bell, chair of the MAC, told reporters on Wednesday that he had not seen evidence to back up the “pull factor” assessment, and said that it was “incumbent” on ministers to make this public. 

“It’s not enough to say: ‘There’s a pull factor’. You’ve got to have evidence to support that, and that’s all we’re suggesting the government produces […] You can’t come to conclusions if you’re not willing to tell us what the evidence is on one side of the equation,” he said. 

Tell your MP you want to see this ban lifted 

Access to work is crucial for building resilience to trafficking and other forms of modern slavery. The Freedom United community is calling for people seeking asylum in the U.K., including trafficking survivors, to be able to work after six months, unconstrained by the Shortage Occupation List. If you live in the U.K., write to your local Member of Parliament and demand action. You can find a template email here.


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