Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine has renewed her call on the Government to rethink its attitude towards asylum seekers, after a Commons clash with ministers over the right to work.
During Home Office Questions, the Lib Dem MP asked why the Government would not agree to lifting the ban on asylum seekers working, given the obvious benefits for both them and society at large.
Currently asylum seekers who are awaiting a decision on their claim can only work after 12 months of being here, and only if they can fill a role on the Government’s ‘shortage occupation list’ (which includes ballet dancer and nuclear waste decommissioner).
Ms Jardine has a Bill before Parliament which would change the rules so that people could work in any job after 3 months in the UK. The move would help asylum seekers learn English and integrate into their communities, and would also save the taxpayer millions.
Ms Jardine commented:
“I am totally baffled as to why this Government feels that it is acceptable to force people who are often highly skilled to live off £5.39 a day when we are crying out for people to fill roles in key sectors such as the health service.
“This is especially true in Scotland where we have always been dependent on waves of immigration, without which we simply wouldn’t have enough people to keep our economy buoyant
“Allowing asylum seekers to rebuild their lives by making a contribution to society straight away would help them to feel valued rather than degraded, and would be beneficial for us all.