Allowing asylum seekers to work would help integration
Published on 10 January 2019
Allowing asylum seekers to work would make their integration into society "much easier", a Church of Scotland backed campaign group has said.
David Bradwell, refugee co-ordinator for Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees, has welcomed a new Private Member's Bill which seeks to change asylum seeker employment rules.
Under plans put forward at Westminster by Edinburgh West MP, Christine Jardine, asylum seekers would have the right to work after three months of arriving in the UK while waiting for their claim to be processed.
Currently, asylum seekers in the UK can only apply to work if they have been waiting for more than 12 months and under very highly restrictive conditions.
These rules are among the toughest in the western world.
The Church of Scotland, a member of the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees partnership, supports the Lift the Ban campaign.
Mr Bradwell said: "We applaud Christine Jardine for introducing the proposed legislation and hope that all political parties will be able to recognise the important role of work in ensuring dignity and respect for individuals.
"The ban on asylum seekers' right to work robs people of their dignity and denies Scotland the skills and experience of people who could contribute to our society and economy.
"Because asylum seekers are prevented from working and earning their own income, they are reliant on handouts from the state.
"It would be a big saving for the taxpayer if they didn't have to fund essential support for people who can pay their own way.
"If they could work it would make their integration in to Scottish society much easier if they are granted refugee status, as they will be able to keep skills and experience up to date.
Mr Bradwell said the rules up until 2002 stated that asylum seekers were not permitted to work for the first six months of their stay in the UK but after six months they could obtain employment.
"This proposed legislation would see us returning to the principle that it is right that people should have the right to work if they are willing and able," he added.
Campaign group, refugee action, claim asylum seekers are forced to live on just £5.39 per day.
The Church of Scotland is campaigning to stop the Umeed Bakhsh family from being deported to Pakistan where Christians are persecuted.
Maqsood, his wife Parveen and their teenage sons, Somer and Areeb, fled to Glasgow in 2012 and have been repeatedly refused asylum by the UK Government.
The 50-year-old was a data analyst in Pakistan and has two masters degrees.
But he and his wife, a trained neo-natal midwife with 17-years of experience, have been unable to work in Scotland and forced to survive on benefits and charity for nearly seven years due to their immigration status.
Both of them are desperate to work and contribute to the country they consider home.
More than 92,000 people have signed two petitions urging the Home Secretary to allow the family to stay in Scotland.
The case is currently being reviewed by the Home Office.