People seeking asylum should have the right to work

Today I’m supporting a Private Members’ bill to give people seeking asylum the right to work.

For me this is about the pride of we can all get from work – it’s not just what we do, often it can define who we are.

As it stands, people seeking asylum who make it to Britain are only allowed to work after twelve months after submitting their claim for asylum and only if they can fill a job on the government’s very narrow shortage occupation list (like ballet dancer, or nuclear waste decomissioner).

Forced to live off a government stipend of £5.39 per day, people seeking asylum are frequently forced into poverty, homelessness, and destitution.

It’s nigh on impossible for them to settle in their communities. They are denied any disposable income that they can use for travel, to go to events, or to study. They are unable to properly integrate with their local area and can’t get to know their neighbours.

Most have gone from victims in one country to virtual prisoners in another.

This is not how it should be. Everyone deserves the right to work, to put food on the table.

We must demand better than the current indignity our asylum system inflicts on vulnerable people. That’s why I am campaigning an end the injustice caused by asylum seekers not being able to work.

The change we’re requesting is so small as far as government policy is concerned – we’re asking for the UK to catch up with the rest of the western world – but the difference it would make to asylum seekers would be transformative.

We’re denying ourselves the skills of some incredibly ambitious and talented people – doctors, engineers, mechanics, teachers, business managers, hairdressers, and gardeners.

Everyone has something to give to others and if offered the platform would step up and add new energy to their communities.