Lift the ban: why people seeking asylum should have the right to work

Teem is an asylum seeker living in the UK. He’s been in this country for nearly 15 years. He did work for most of this time but due to complications with his documentation, when he submitted a claim for asylum, he was no longer allowed to stay in employment.

He’s soon to find out whether or not he’ll be forced to return to his birth country - a place where he says he would not be safe. In this latest episode of the Breaking Barriers podcast we listened in as Teem spoke to British fashion entrepreneur Ade Hassan who has numerous awards under her belt - including Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year, the UK’s favourite British designer and the small matter of an MBE for her services to fashion.

Teem is by no means in a unique position. Last year alone there were over 26,000 asylum applications to the UK, however those who seek refuge are not allowed to claim benefits or do paid work in any capacity until asylum is granted. As Teem so eloquently puts it in his conversation with Ade, this presents numerous problems for those waiting for their claim to be either accepted or rejected. But what else did you need to know about the ban on people seeking asylum working in the UK?

Helpfully, Refugee Action have broken down the facts:

  • Those unable to work and seeking refugee status are left to live on just £5.39 per day, struggling to support themselves and their families.
  • 94 per cent of those people surveyed, who all had direct experience of the asylum process, said that they would like to work if given permission to do so. While 52 per cent of respondents had used a food bank in the last year as a result of not being able to get a job.
Teem and Ade at Nubian Skin offices in London
  • An overwhelming majority, 71 per cent, of the UK public agree that people seeking asylum should be allowed to work.
  • The Lift The Ban report states that a change in policy could benefit the UK economy, through net gains for the Government of £42.4 million.

This week sees the release of the sixth episode of the series, which focuses on ex-offenders. You can search Breaking Barriers and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyPocket CastCastbox or where ever you get your podcasts from.

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