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Companies and trade organisations call on Home Secretary to lift the ban

By March 22, 2022Press release

Organisations representing thousands of employers and businesses are calling on the Government to give people seeking asylum the right to work.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the Association of Labour Providers, the National Farmers’ Union and Adecco are among the signatories to a public statement that says while the ethical case to lift the ban remains strong, the business case is more urgent than ever.

The statement comes as the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill is set to return to the Commons on Tuesday where MPs will consider a Lords amendment that would legislate for people seeking asylum to have the right to work after six months.

ONS figures released on Tuesday March 15 revealed that the number of job vacancies in the UK has reached another record high.

The data shows for the three months from December to February 2022 job vacancies rose to a new record of 1,318,000, an increase of 105,000 from the previous quarter with half of industry sectors showing record highs.

“The world is looking on with horror at what is happening in Ukraine and with broken hearts at the people who have been forced to drop their lives, grab their loved ones and leave their cities, towns and communities behind,” the statement reads.

“Despite Government initiatives to help Ukrainians find safety in the UK, some people who are forced to flee will be unable to access these routes and will be forced to enter our asylum system.

“While they wait for a decision on their claim, these people will be banned from working; prevented from using their skills to help rebuild their lives, uphold their dignity, and contribute to their communities.

“The ethical case for lifting the ban on people seeking asylum being allowed to work remains as strong as it has always been.

“The business case is now more urgent than ever. Data from recruiters shows that demand for staff is at record levels and rising, and the pool of candidates is shrinking.

“Recruiters, labour providers and hiring businesses are struggling to fill the vacancies that exist in today’s labour market.

“The needless rule to bar asylum seekers from work not only has a negative impact on businesses and the economy, it has short and long-term effects on people seeking asylum themselves.”

The signatories said they backed a call by the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee to review the ban with a view to giving people seeking asylum the right to work after six months, unconstrained by the shortage occupation list.

“As we recover from the pandemic, it is the Government’s priority to help the economy build back better,” the statement adds.

“Whether they are from Ukraine or elsewhere, stopping people seeking asylum from working is not the way to go about it. It’s time to lift the ban.”

Polling published on Thursday March 10 by YouGov on behalf of Lift the Ban – a coalition of more than 260 organisations including businesses, recruiters, trade unions, faith groups and refugee charities –revealed that 81 per cent of the public support people seeking asylum having the right to work.

 

David Camp, Chief Executive of the Association of Labour Providers, said:

“The UK has all-time-record job vacancy levels. Asylum seekers want to work. Now is the time to lift the ban.”

 

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“The crisis in Ukraine has brought the plight of refugees and asylum seekers back to the fore in recent weeks.

“The fact that the UK completely bans asylum seekers from working while their claims are being processed defies all logic.

“It deprives people of the dignity to earn a living and businesses of skilled workers at a time when there are record vacancies across the country.

“Now is the time to lift the ban and show we care about people fleeing hardship in Ukraine and elsewhere.”

 

Niki Turner-Harding, Senior Vice President, Adecco UK & Ireland, said:

“As vacancies continue to remain at an all-time high and with skills shortages pervading most sectors, it is vital that access to opportunity is provided to people seeking asylum.

“Many industries have suffered as a result of the pandemic, with the hospitality industry being one of the hardest hit. Providing quick access to the labour market across all sectors, will help in reducing the high levels of roles and strengthen shrinking talent pools.

“The current crisis in Ukraine has highlighted just how important it is to support displaced people as they seek to rebuild their livelihoods and integrate into their new communities.”

 

Notes to Editors

The full statement

Dear Home Secretary

The world is looking on with horror at what is happening in Ukraine and with broken hearts at the people who have been forced to drop their lives, grab their loved ones and leave their cities, towns and communities behind.

Despite Government initiatives to help Ukrainians find safety in the UK, some people who are forced to flee will be unable to access these routes and will be forced to enter our asylum system.

While they wait for a decision on their claim, these people will be banned from working; prevented from using their skills to help rebuild their lives, uphold their dignity, and contribute to their communities.

The ethical case for lifting the ban on people seeking asylum being allowed to work remains as strong as it has always been.

But the business case is now more urgent than ever. Data from recruiters show that demand for staff is at record levels and rising, and the pool of candidates is shrinking.

Recruiters, labour providers and hiring businesses are struggling to fill the vacancies that exist in today’s labour market.

The direct effect these shortages have on our economy – from supply chain HGV delivery delays to food factories struggling to supply our supermarkets – have been well reported.

Meanwhile, hospitals and care homes are facing multiple huge crises at once. They are still tackling the pandemic and trying to manage its knock-on effects on wider healthcare, while frequently running on empty due to sickness absence and long-term staff shortages.

Yet there are thousands of people in the UK – skilled, resilient and willing – who could be working but are not allowed.

The evidence published in March by hundreds of charities, think tanks and businesses through the Lift the Ban coalition continues to provide a clear picture of the benefits.

It has shown that by the end of 2022 the ban will have cost the Treasury £880 million over 10 years because of missed tax and national insurance contributions and reduced spending on asylum support. Polling by YouGov has shown 81 per cent of the public backs change.

The needless rule to bar asylum seekers from work not only has a negative impact on businesses and the economy, it has short and long-term effects on people seeking asylum themselves.

We welcomed the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) 2021 report, which noted that the ban on work could be more harmful to the long-term success of people ultimately granted asylum.

And we wholeheartedly support the Committee’s proposal that the Home Office review the ban and look into giving people seeking asylum the right to work after six months, unconstrained by the shortage occupation list.

As we recover from the pandemic, it is the Government’s priority to help the economy build back better.

Whether they are from Ukraine or elsewhere, stopping people seeking asylum from working is not the way to go about it. It’s time to lift the ban.

Signed

David Camp, Chief Executive, Association of Labour Providers

Kate Shoesmith, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Recruitment and Employment Confederation

Niki Turner-Harding, Senior Vice President, Adecco UK & Ireland

Tom Bradshaw, Deputy President, National Farmers’ Union

Veronica Rossini, Acting Executive Director, Tent Partnership for Refugees

Lilian Geijsen, European Director, Ben & Jerry’s

Nick Crofts, Chief Executive Officer, The Co-op Foundation

Dame Stephanie Shirley CH

Bella Freud, Designer and Creative Director at Bella Freud

Pinky Lilani CBE DL, Chairman, Women of the Future Ltd

Yotam Ottolenghi, cookery writer and chef-patron of the Ottolenghi delis, NOPI restaurant and ROVI

Awmaima Amrayaf, Legal Officer, DLA Piper

Roland Foord, Senior Partner at Stephenson Harwood LLP

Andy Bell, Co-Founder, SIDE Labs

Barry O’Kane, Founder, Endzone.io Ltd t/a HappyPorch

Neil Farrell, Founder and Director of Farrell Associates

Eleanor Gibson, Founder and Coach, Team Tilt Ltd

Joanna Florczak, HR Manager, JJ Foodservice

Jo Johnson, Co-founder and Head of UX, Jellymould

Boglione Family, owners, Petersham Nurseries.

 

 

 

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