It’s time to grant asylum seekers right to work

In a place like the UK where the cost of life is very expensive, and where the Government increases the national minimum wage every year, no one would expect the Government to reduce the only source of support one lives on. Yet the government has decided that from October, support to single asylum seekers aged over 25 will be reduced to just £35.13 each week.

It means that asylum seekers will have to live on just £5 per day. That’s the amount they’ll have to spend on everything they need to survive (food, toiletries, clothes, travel, phone calls, etc).

It would be important for the Government to reveal the reason for reducing asylum support.

If at all this is being done because the Government lacks money to continue supporting asylum seekers, then this is the right time to change the policy that denies asylum seekers the right to work.

In fact by granting asylum seekers the right to work while waiting for a decision on their claim, the Government can save a lot of money.

It is wrong for the Government to deny asylum seekers the right to work, force them to rely on benefits, and then reduce the very benefits they rely on.

Is this a way of forcing them to starve? Is it a way of sending a message to asylum seekers that they are not welcome here, that they should go away?
When you force people to starve, you are in away forcing them to look for alternative ways of survival, which most of the time are not legal. It is a way of exposing them to exploitation by unscrupulous people.

Asylum seekers are people in need of protection. They are people fleeing for their lives, having undergone some of the saddest experiences one can ever imagine of. They are people who can’t call home their place of birth, and cannot return there even if they’d like to. All they need is protection, compassion and a chance to give their contribution to their new home.

Several surveys have shown that the UK is losing a range of skills by denying asylum seekers entitlement to work. They have the skills the country desperately needs. But apparently, asylum seeker’s skills are not recognised.

Denying a person with skills and capable of working the right to work is like subjecting the person to a permanent state of idleness. It is an effective way of making the person feel he/she is useless to the society. These people have suffered more than enough. Please stop subjecting them to further suffering.

Let them work while you are processing their claims. You can then stop them from working when you decide that they don’t qualify for asylum. But before then, let them work and put their skills to the service of the UK. This will enable them live a fulfilled, dignified life.

Refugee Council to Government: Stop cuts to asylum support