Schedule 6 - Support for certain categories of migrant

Part of Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 10th November 2015.

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This proposed amendment would provide for asylum seekers to be able to work if their claim is not determined within the Home Office target time of six months.

The amendment follows amendment 227 in that it would provide for asylum seekers to be able to work if their claim was not determined within the Home Office target time of six months. One of the injustices here is that those who have to exist on the low rates that the Committee has just discussed must do so under a system that prohibits them from working.

More than 3,600 asylum seekers currently wait more than six months for an initial decision on their cases. They are the individuals surviving on just over £5 a day, as we have just discussed. As things stand, they can apply for permission to work only if they have been waiting for more than a year for an initial decision. If that permission is granted, they are allowed to seek employment only in an occupation listed on the shortage occupation list.

This system has changed over the years as a result of a number of challenges and different policy decisions. The evidence that not allowing people to work deters them from coming to the UK is extremely hard to maintain when the position in other EU countries is taken into account. Some 11 EU countries grant permission  to work after six months or less, if a decision has not been made on the asylum application. All those countries have had policies in place for many years. The recast EU reception conditions directive reduces the period an asylum seeker can be excluded from the labour market in an initial decision to nine months. Some 27 EU states have more generous policies than the UK as a combined result of those provisions.

This simple amendment would put people who have had to wait more than six months for their decision in a position where they can work, which is what many of them want to do. The net result for the taxpayer is likely to be a saving rather than a cost.