Refugee and asylum seeker campaigners have attacked the
government’s decision to remove the right to work from asylum
seekers who have not had decisions on their claims after six
Home Office minister Beverley Hughes announced the change last
week and it came into immediate effect.
Previously, asylums seekers could apply for permission to work
if they had not received an initial decision on their claim after
Nick Hardwick, chief executive of the Refugee Council, described
the government’s decision as “extremely short
sighted” and said it punished asylum seekers for the
government’s failure to meet its own targets.
He said the move was guided by “political
expediency” and he was disappointed it had been pushed
through without consultation.
“It will condemn asylum seekers to a life of dependency and
poverty,” he said, adding that it would have no impact on the
number of people claiming asylum in the UK.
Refugee Action chief executive Sandy Buchan, who described the
move as “outrageous”, agreed that the
government’s decision would do little to deter people from
seeking asylum in the UK.
“In removing permission to work, the government is
consigning asylum seekers to grinding poverty, dependency and
inactivity for many months,” he said.
He confirmed that Refugee Action would continue to lobby the
government to take a long-term view.
Hughes insisted that the government had ended the practice
because “the vast majority” of applications were being
dealt with in fewer than six months now. She is reviewing the rules
governing the type of voluntary work asylum seekers are entitled to
take part in, with a view to allowing them to do more.
The Home Office has also allocated £900,000 to fund 135
projects during the summer to encourage asylum seekers to develop
new skills and use their time constructively.