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

I agree, the Government should prioritise English language training to overcome the language barrier. We have seen a drop in the availability of English language teaching and training, and that needs to come back.

The point about it being time to change is really important, because Lift the Ban’s research showed that one in seven of the people seeking asylum have experience of working in health and social care. We have a shortfall in those sectors, and in any normal year we should be welcoming people and getting them into those jobs as quickly as possible. In the context of a global pandemic, there is simply no excuse for denying this workforce a chance to get on with those jobs, which we need more than ever. I hope today the Minister will talk us through how he will be fast-tracking those with health and social care backgrounds, in particular, into jobs.

We need more nurses and medical practitioners, and people with that skilled background are going through an inhumane process—state-sponsored destitution on £5.66 a day or £39.62 a week. I hope that the Minister will listen to campaigners and tell us when that rate will be increased, and why it has not yet been increased to help people protect themselves, their families and the broader community in response to covid-19.

There is evidence that this policy has left people vulnerable to exploitation and criminals. Even in Home Office-run hostels, gangs target these people because they know they are desperate for cash and income. This is a Home Office policy—the Department responsible for law and order and tackling crime has a policy that results in an increase in crime.