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
    support.

    “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 www.jrf.org.uk

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