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Asylum Seekers: Right to Work

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:13 am on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 11:13 am, 24th October 2018

Thank you. That at least clears that up. I very much appreciate the words of wisdom I have heard on many occasions from the hon. Lady and my right hon. Friend Dame Caroline Spelman, who secured the debate. I absolutely recognise that the rights of asylum seekers and refugees are an important issue to them. It is a subject on which they have spoken many times in this House, with much knowledge and erudition.

This debate on access to work for those claiming asylum is important. We can see that, for a 30-minute debate, it has provoked a lot of interest from the House. Members may well want to intervene, and I will certainly be happy to take interventions, but I particularly want to thank the Lift the Ban coalition for its recent report, which was sent to me. It raised a number of important points.

Members will know that the UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it. This Government are committed to delivering a fair and humane asylum system. We are tackling the delays in decision making to ensure that most asylum seekers receive a decision within six months. In the year ending June 2018, we granted protection or other forms of leave to more than 14,000 people, and we are increasing integration support for all refugees to help them rebuild their lives here and realise their potential.

I am sure Members share my appreciation for the excellent work that all agencies do to help and protect these very vulnerable people, but our protection does not end there. All those claiming asylum are provided with accommodation and support to meet their essential living needs if they would otherwise be destitute. Rachael Maskell raised that issue. They are entitled to full access to healthcare and, for those under 18, access to full-time education. Those recognised as refugees, including those resettled here, have immediate and unrestricted access to work and other services that can support their integration.

As might be expected from a former Minister at the Department for Work and Pensions, I certainly recognise the importance of work when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing, building a wider sense of contribution to our society and community integration.