Thank you for writing to me about asylum seekers and their right to work.
It is difficult to convey my anger, disgust and dismay at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and, in particular, the continued indiscriminate Russian bombing and shelling of civilian areas of Ukraine, including hospitals and schools. I am proud of Britain's ongoing support for the Ukrainians with our diplomacy, our robust and wide ranging sanctions on Russia, with humanitarian support and aid, and with all kinds of vital military assistance short of putting British troops on the ground or British planes in the air. The Government has provided more than £2.8 billion in humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries since the Russian invasion started, along with crucial defensive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry.
The UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for refugees. Each claim for asylum is carefully considered and where it is found that individuals are in need of protection, asylum is given. Those with refugee status have immediate and unrestricted access to the labour market.
Asylum seekers are allowed to work, in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, if their claim has not been decided after 12 months through no fault of their own. The current policy aims to strike a balance between being equitable towards asylum seekers, while considering the rights and needs of our society as a whole, prioritising jobs for British citizens and those with leave to remain here, including refugees. The Government is considering recent calls to change the current policy and is reviewing the evidence available.
Any asylum seeker who would otherwise be destitute is provided with free accommodation, utility bills and council tax paid and a weekly cash allowance of £40.85 for each person in the household and with extra money available for mothers and young children. Additionally, expecting mothers will be given a cash bonus.
I appreciate that you have concerns over this allowance figure. The methodology used for the cash allowance has been recognised by the Courts as rational and lawful. It is also important to factor in that NHS healthcare and education for children is provided free of charge.
For more information please see the government’s Report on review of cash allowance paid to asylum seekers and the asylum support webpage.
As I say, I am proud of this country’s tradition of welcoming refugees, and I will continue to closely monitor the support available to asylum seekers to ensure sufficient support is provided. You will also be pleased to know that I am also quite sympathetic to the arguments re. lifting the ban on work.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking