Labour policies have left asylum seekers socially excluded

Policies introduced since Labour came to power in 1997 have
helped make asylum seekers the most socially excluded group in
Britain, according to a report published today, writes
Maria Ahmed.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that, while poverty has
been alleviated for some vulnerable groups over the last seven
years, asylum policies have led to a “reduction in
rights” for this group in employment, income and housing.

The review of government policies on poverty, inequality and
social exclusion finds that the impact of asylum policies
“ran in the opposite direction” to other areas
assessed, most of which show improvement.

It highlights the withdrawal of benefits for asylum seekers and
the introduction of accommodation centres in legislation passed
since 1999 as part of a “progressive reduction” in

“Asylum seekers…are denied the right to seek
employment, have only limited and problematic access to health
services and are dispersed to highly deprived areas …where
they are vulnerable to harassment and physical attacks,” the
report says.

“In future, their children are to be educated in
segregated institutions. It would be hard to concoct a better
recipe for social exclusion.”

The report says asylum policies run “contrary” to
other government objectives including reducing rough sleeping,
encouraging employment and creating an inclusive society.

At the other end of the spectrum, the report says children have
benefited most under Labour, with the government “on
track” to hit its target of reducing the number of children
living in relative poverty by a quarter by 2004/5 because of tax
benefit reforms.

However, the report warns that relative child poverty levels for
the UK are still above the EU average.

Report from

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