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A message from the CEO – Lifting the Ban

Categories: CEO's Blog

There was an interesting debate in parliament last week – whether people who have come to the UK to ask for protection should be allowed to work if their application isn’t decided on within six months. It was prompted by a coalition of businesses and religious and civil society organisations, including MRC, which is calling on the government to ‘Lift the Ban’ on employment.

In the debate, the government spoke about the importance of employment for the economy and for people’s physical and mental health. There is so much evidence showing this to be very true. One point made by the government rang especially true for me. Work is important for community integration. I discussed this in my September blog.

Stuck in limbo

Nahla a qualified and experienced accountant, fled to the UK from Egypt following years of violence during which members of her family were imprisoned and killed. It was two years before she was granted permission to stay. During this time, she could not work. “I have a lot of work experience, but I found out that I was not allowed to work here… I thought we would receive a decision in a few months. It took years.” *

People like Nahla, who have fled violence and persecution, are forbidden by law from working. Unable to use their talents and skills to support themselves, people seeking protection live on a weekly government payment of £37.75. That’s a little over £5 per day. Unless able to make alternative arrangements, a person is housed in a flat or hostel often in isolated places. Without enough money for food, clothing, toiletries and transport, it’s a life stuck in poverty. For Nalha having to get a bus meant not eating that day. “There were days when we didn’t have enough to buy food.”

People are stuck in this situation until their application for protection is approved. While the Home Office has set a target of deciding on an application within six months, roughly half of people need to wait even longer. Many, like Nalha, will wait several years.

Integration from day one

Having a job gives us financial freedom. It lets us socialise, pursue hobbies, and travel. It gives us independence, allows us to be self-reliant and have a choice over how we live. A survey conducted by MRC found that, for people who are new to Britain, the workplace is the number one place for learning about British culture and values as well as English. 94% of people with experience of the asylum process said they would like to work if they had the opportunity.

Giving people who have come here for protection the opportunity to use their talents and skills in work makes sense on many levels. For the worker it means a chance to learn about the culture and values of the place they aspire to call home. It means a chance to make a living and enhance skills. For Britain it means communities which are stronger and better integrated. For the economy, letting people whose application for protection goes on longer than six months the opportunity means an additional £42m in tax revenue. That means less people reliant on a government pay-out that keeps them in poverty. It’s something that the majority of the public want.

Each year we help hundreds of people find safety and stability in the UK, helping people find work so they can live a prosperous life. MRC is fully behind the Lift The Ban campaign.

*Read more about Nahla’s story here.

A note about our next campaign.

Next month it is #givingtuesday. We will be taking this opportunity to launch our Autumn Appeal. This will be in aid of ‘Your asylum appeal hearing: information to help you’, an animated film that we have developed to aid those going through the asylum appeal process. This process can be confusing, stressful and often traumatic, especially if English is not your first language or you have children.

You will be able to see our film and find out more about the issues on our website in early November. I hope you take the time to visit our webpages and consider supporting this campaign. More details next month

Yours sincerely,

Wayne Myslik
Chief Executive

I am delighted to announce our first #GivingTuesday campaign in November. I will include more details about this next month.

Wayne Myslik, CEO
Migrants Resource Centre


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