Asylum Seekers and Permission to Work

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:02 pm on 18th November 2020.

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Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark 4:02 pm, 18th November 2020

That is beyond astonishing. I am baffled and bewildered as to why it is taking so long. I do not shy away from acknowledging the fact that migrants of all kinds have always made a strong economic contribution, and they have strengthened our community and our society for the better. They should be better treated by our Government, who have delayed on this for far too long.

On 11 June this year, in the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill Committee, the Minister announced that a new service standard for asylum claims was being developed. He said that it was

“intended to try to bring back some balance to the system…UK Visas and Immigration is engaging with stakeholders as part of these plans and considering any insight that those stakeholders offer as it tries to shape a new service standard”.––[Official Report, Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Public Bill Committee, 11 June 2020;
c. 124.]

I hope the Minister who is here today will tell us what that will look like, who has been involved and when it will report. I hope that he will also tell us when what the Prime Minister promised in July 2019 will finally be delivered. I assume that those things will be together, but let us see what the Minister says.

On the numbers of people affected, the Refugee Council reported at the end of June this year that 38,756 people have been waiting for more than six months for a decision. That is a massive increase on the figure for this time last year. It is a record-breaking rise, and a record-breaking failure in the Home Office. From the end of June this year, almost 17,000 applications have been waiting for more than 12 months for an initial decision. That is astonishing, and it is pathetic. Any business with such a level of delivery would be shut down. It is a complete failure and a dereliction of duty in the Home Office. We should not forget that an application does not just represent one person; there can be a whole family on one application.