There is widespread public support for a change in the law to allow
asylum seekers to work and support themselves while their
applications are being considered, according to an exclusive poll
commissioned by Community Care.
Seventy-eight per cent of those questioned agreed that those
seeking refuge in the UK should be allowed to get a job, especially
in areas where there are skill shortages.
The survey of more than 1,000 people was carried out as part of the
Right to Refuge campaign, which aims to challenge prejudice. Many
asylum seekers want to work but are forbidden from doing so.
Increasing numbers are also refused benefits.
Community Care editor Polly Neate said the results were
encouraging: “Employment not only promotes integration but also
gives people a chance to make a contribution to society. We urge
the government to listen and take notice of these results.”
Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee Action, added: “The public
are right. Let asylum seekers work. That way they can provide for
themselves and contribute to the communities in which they
liveÉ Many are qualified professionals yet they are banned
More than two-thirds of those taking part in the survey described
themselves as tolerant towards asylum seekers and refugees,
although that tolerance was not always reflected in their other
Eighty-two per cent said they felt that the UK should be “tougher”
on those seeking asylum in this country, while 52 per cent
disagreed with the statement “asylum seekers enhance the UK’s
However, responses varied depending on where people lived.
Londoners tended to be more tolerant, with 61 per cent agreeing
that society was enhanced by asylum seekers compared with just 29
per cent of respondents in the East Midlands.
Meanwhile, 62 per cent of those in Scotland said they would be
happy for asylum seekers to be housed on their street, while only
29 per cent of people in the south west agreed.
Respondents were equally divided over whether asylum seekers should
have the same rights as local people to services such as housing or
And, while 48 per cent supported an end to the detention of asylum
seekers under 18 who had committed no crime, 43 per cent were
against any such move.