EXCL Lib Dems would let asylum seekers work after three months in UK in bid to end 'wasted potential'

Posted On: 
16th November 2019

Asylum seekers will be able to work in the UK after three months under a Liberal Democrat government.

The Lib Dems compared their immigration policies to the Conservatives' 'counterproductive' plans.

In a major change to current asylum policy, Jo Swinson’s party would cut the time limit for those looking to start employment by three-quarters.

Their home affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine told PoliticsHome the new policy would form part of the Lib Dems’ 'Plan for Immigration and Asylum' in their upcoming general election manifesto.

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She said: "Forcing asylum seekers to live on meagre handouts while they wait months or even years for a decision on their future is dehumanising and a needless waste of their economic potential.

"The Tories’ counterproductive hostile environment has gone on for far too long."

Under current government rules people can only apply to work after they have been waiting for an asylum decision for more than a year.

They are also limited to taking jobs within a narrow list of roles on the Government’s Shortage Occupation List.

But Ms Jardine said: "By giving those seeking asylum in the UK the opportunity to work after three months, we can boost the public purse by £40million a year, while helping applicants to start building a better future for themselves and their families. 

"This is about building a brighter future for all, including the most vulnerable."

Latest Home Office figures show more than 22,000 people were still waiting for a decision on their asylum claim more than six months after applying – a figure that has more than doubled since 2016.

A group of businesses including the CBI and Ben & Jerry’s are part of Lift the Ban Coalition, which also includes charities such as Refugee Action and the Salvation Army. 

The group has been calling for asylum seekers to be given the right to work, saying reducing the time limit could boost the Exchequer by more than £40million a year in additional tax and National Insurance revenue, as well as asylum support savings.