15 December 2022: Morning Star: Allowing asylum seekers to work makes sense
CLAUDIA WEBBE MP argues that granting all migrants indefinite leave to remain and the ability to work will only strengthen the power of our class — as well as boosting the economy
We can learn a lot from those who experience and resist the British asylum system.
Under current rules, asylum-seekers are not permitted to work except in very rare “exceptional” circumstances. Neither are they allowed to claim normal welfare benefits, forcing them to rely on a tiny amount of state support.
That support is meagre at best: under £41 a week per person — less than £6 a day for essentials, let alone for activities where they and their children can make friends and integrate into communities.
Mothers with children under three get just an extra £3 a week. For those in asylum accommodation, it’s even worse, with support at just £1.20 a day.
Accommodation provided by the government for refugees, through the use of private-sector companies, was described by a recent report of the home affairs select committee as a “disgrace.”
Such meanness sentences asylum-seekers to near-destitution for as long as it takes the government to decide their case, leading even centre-right group Bright Blue to say that being an asylum-seeker is “strongly associated with impoverishment.”
And of course, we are in the middle of a government-inflicted cost-of-living crisis. Food costs and bills are soaring, and wages and benefits are not keeping up with inflation.
In such crises, it’s the most vulnerable in our society who suffer the most — and there are few more vulnerable and more unsupported than asylum-seekers.
Current levels of support for people in the asylum system are far below universal credit and have not kept pace with the cost of living.
But even such parsimonious support is used as a political tool by the Tories and their fellow travellers. The government routinely whips up anti-refugee sentiment as a distraction from its failures, or to justify yet further cruelties, with the claim that they represent some kind of unbearable burden on our society and the public purse.
Supposedly, this rule is in place to differentiate asylum from economic migration and discourage economic migrants from making “inappropriate asylum applications” to work in Britain.
But this rationale by the government doesn’t stand up to even basic scrutiny. Why would providing the basic right to work lead to an influx of economic migrants wanting to pose as asylum-seekers? What evidence is this based on? There is none.
Nor is there any evidence that any form of generosity in the asylum system would lead to more refugees trying to come here.