Southwark Council passed a council motion backing calls for the Government to give people seeking asylum the right to work in the UK.
The cross-party motion called on the Council to join the ‘Lift the Ban’ coalition – which calls on the Government to restore asylum seekers’ right to work if they have been waiting for more than 6 months for a decision on their asylum claim and to lift current restrictions on the occupations asylum seekers can work in.
Lib Dem member Cllr Irina von Wiese seconded the cross-party motion, which passed unanimously at Southwark’s full council on 12th July.
Research from the ‘Lift the Ban’ coalition estimates that the treasury loses £108.8 million through not allowing asylum seekers to work and that roughly half of asylum seekers currently barred from working have the skills and qualifications to be considered critical workers in the UK
Commenting, Cllr Irina von Wiese said, “Currently, people seeking asylum are effectively banned from getting a job while waiting for a decision on their claim – which can take over a year – and instead must exist on a meagre government allowance of just £5.66 a day.
The UK is in the middle of its worst labour shortage for decades. Locking asylum seekers out of key jobs that they are qualified to do does not benefit anyone.
As a Liberal Democrat, as a human rights lawyer, as a refugee rights activist, and as the daughter and granddaughter of refugees, I was proud to see all councillors come together to support our motion.
Lifting the ban would allow tens of thousands more people to work in the UK. It would transform lives and bring wide-ranging benefits to our community. 81% of the public support the right to work for people seeking asylum in the UK. So do we, so do the people of Southwark. We have sent the government a clear message: Lift this nonsensical and harmful ban.”