People who come to the UK having fled violence are banned from taking employment while their application for protection is being considered. This process can take many months and even years. During this time they are forced to rely on a government allowance of just £37 a week. Their many skills and talents go unused. The opportunity to integrate, learn about their new home, make friends, contribute to the economy and be part of society, is at best delayed and at worse completely wasted. It makes much more sense to let people apply for jobs if this process goes on longer than six months.
Why lift the ban on employment?
Everyone striving for a future in the UK should have a fair chance at being able to get a job. Everybody wants to be able to support themselves and their families, and contribute to society. When they do, people are happier, communities are more vibrant, and the economy and our public services like the NHS are stronger.
We support the Lift the Ban campaign to allow people who came to the UK to seek protection from persecution the ability to work after six months. All of the evidence shows that this is a much better idea. The vast majority (71%) of the British public wants this. Even if half of those going through the asylum process successfully take up work, this would still generate over £42m in revenue. And the benefits go far beyond this.
More than a job
A job is about far more than the money in our pockets. A job is an opportunity to develop new skills and networks of friends and colleagues. Employment contributes to better physical and mental health, giving people greater self-esteem and more opportunities to socialise.
The workplace is where we get exposed to new ways of thinking. For migrants, the work place is doubly important as a place to learn about British society and learn English. In a survey of migrants in the UK conducted by Consonant in 2018, 43% of people said that they learn most about British values in the workplace. With this unique insight into the British way of life, migrants are far better able to be active in their local communities, and have a positive experience with integration, which benefits the whole country.
Employment: integration from day one
There’s a huge opportunity here for communities if we make sure integration is happening from day one. To seize on this opportunity, we need to make sure that all people who are striving for a future in the UK have access to the information and resources they need. That starts with access to good employment.