Senior Interior Ministry official says “no plan” to give asylum seekers the right to work

The Home Office came under criticism after a senior official said the department did not plan to grant asylum seekers the right to work, although ministers said the policy was underway. revision.

Second Permanent Secretary Tricia Hayes told a committee of MPs last week that the ministry “is not seeking to change” the rules regarding access to employment for people awaiting decisions on their applications. This despite the fact that the Prime Minister said in 2019 that the policy was under review, and no findings for that review have been released.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said The independent Monday that Mrs Hayes had “spoken badly” during the testimony session with the select committee on home affairs and that the examination was in fact “in progress”.

But activists said his response indicated the ministry was “kicking the box” at the end of the review, which the government first said it planned to conduct three years ago.

Currently, asylum seekers in the UK are normally not allowed to work while their claim is being examined, and instead must rely on the Home Office for their accommodation and basic needs.

In December 2018, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid told parliament he wanted to review the ban. Asked about asylum seekers’ right to work in July 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Home Office was currently “reviewing this matter” and his government “would make an announcement shortly “.

Last November, then-Immigration Minister Chris Philp said a review was “underway” and that he “would report back as soon as [the Home Office was] capable of completing it ”.

However, when asked if the ministry was investigating the matter during a evidence session with the Special Home Affairs Committee last Thursday, Hayes said there was “no plan” to do so. .

Questioning the Second Permanent Secretary on the asylum system, SNP MP Stuart McDonald said: “Will the Home Office review things like the ban on work, the levels of support that people get, etc.

Ms Hayes replied, “We do not intend to revise these parameters at this time. I think for the moment we will focus our attention on optimally managing the backlog.

“We will provide support to people, but we are not planning to change the terms and conditions at this time.”

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry later said The independent Ms Hayes spoke “poorly” and the case was still “under review”.

Calls for the ban to be lifted have increased in recent years. A survey of more than 1,000 business leaders in 2019 found that two-thirds (67%) said the government should lift the ban, with a majority (64%) also saying they are would expect to see benefits in terms of diversity of experience and skills.

Mr. McDonald said The independent the ban on working for asylum seekers was “appalling”, “especially when people have to wait longer than ever for decisions on their cases”.

He added: “It is despicable that people who need to rebuild their lives and want to contribute are instead forced into years of unemployment and poverty. “

Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, said the government’s review of granting asylum seekers the right to work appeared to have “vanished into thin air.”

“Tens of thousands of qualified and talented people are crying out loud to be removed from a government allowance and allowed to work so that they can contribute to our communities,” he added.

“The government cannot keep kicking this box on the road. He urgently needs to share the details of his review, set a date for its publication and find common sense to finally lift the ban on working for asylum seekers.

Minnie Rahman, acting executive director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said banning asylum seekers from working made “no practical, moral or financial sense.”

“It is disappointing to see the government repeatedly kicking it when it comes to reviewing policy, and not having the most basic information to know if this is even taking place,” he said. she adds.

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: “The right of asylum seekers to work is a complex issue and is under review. It is crucial that we take the time to get it right. We listen carefully to the arguments and consider the evidence put forward on the issue. “

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