Survey reveals staff’s rejection of Labour’s policy on asylum seekers

The government has performed most poorly on asylum and immigration
according to a Community Care survey on issues in social

Almost one-third of social care professionals rated Labour’s
performance on asylum and immigration as “very poor”, double the
number who passed the same verdict on its record on mental health
services – the next worst performing area, according to the poll.

Just over a further third rated the government’s performance as
“fairly poor”. Many respondents were concerned about the treatment
of child asylum seekers.

Last week Tony Blair said that if Labour was re-elected it would
detain more asylum seekers whose claims have failed and use
electronic tagging to keep track of those it believes could
disappear. He added that the party would also recruit 600
immigration officers to patrol Britain’s borders.

Rules on appeals introduced this month will mean that solicitors
for asylum seekers will only get paid after an appeal has been
heard if the asylum claim is successful or the High Court thinks
that the case was worth pursuing even though it eventually failed.

The government wants to stop solicitors taking on hopeless cases
but campaigners and MPs on the Commons constitutional affairs
select committee argue that asylum seekers with genuine cases may
be unable to find a legal representative.

A third of respondents stated that the treatment of child asylum
seekers had got worse under Labour.

Last December the government introduced laws, under section 9 of
the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, that could make asylum
seekers whose claims have failed, and who refuse to go home,
destitute and could lead to their children being taken in to

The measure, which is being piloted in the North West and several
London boroughs before being rolled out nationally, has caused
outrage among campaigners. Previously only single asylum seekers
whose claims had failed were affected by this policy.

The government has also been strongly criticised by campaigners and
Kathleen Marshall, Scotland’s children’s commissioner, over its
policy of detaining asylum seeker children. She argues that
families with children are less likely to abscond and so special
provision should be made for them. “I would like to see better
facilities for accommodating them [asylum seeker families] in the
community,” she said

Community Care surveyed 1,096 social care professionals on a range
of election issues.

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