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Truss, Sunak must commit to lifting ban on asylum seekers working after record wait times revealed

By August 25, 2022February 7th, 2023Press release

More people than ever are having to wait more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim, figures released today by the Home Office show.

In the 12 months to June 2022 some 85,917 people had been waiting more than six months for a decision on their claim.

The number is an increase of 59 per cent on the previous year and 14 times higher than the number 10 years ago, when 6,070 people had to wait more than six months.

The number of initial decisions made in the year ending June 2022 was just 14,706, 29 per cent fewer than in 2019.

Today’s figures mean that 73 per cent of all decisions on an initial asylum claim take longer than six months.

The delays have prompted the Lift the Ban coalition to call on the next Prime Minister to commit to giving people seeking asylum the right to work while they wait for a decision on their claim.

The Coalition – which includes business groups, recruiters, economists, trade unions, faith groups and refugee charities – says people seeking asylum should have the right to work after six months of waiting for a decision on their claim and be unrestricted by the Shortage Occupation List.

A change in policy is popular with Conservative voters, with more than four in five backing the right to work for people seeking asylum, according to polling carried out by YouGov in March this year.

The Coalition now estimates that banning people seeking asylum from working costs the taxpayer more than £300 million a year – a figure that continues to grows as more people must wait more than six months.

The ONS Labour Market Overview, released on 16 August, revealed that between April and June there were still 1.27 million job vacancies in the UK.

Rachel Goodall, Head of Asylum Services at Refugee Action, said:

“It’s patently absurd that in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and with record labour shortages the Government chooses to force tens of thousands of people into unemployment.

“The huge delays in processing asylum claims means the cost of this ban on employers, the public and refugees – who must live on just £5.84 a day – is snowballing.

“The right to work would benefit everyone. The new Prime Minister must commit to lifting the nonsensical and unpopular ban on their first day in No.10.”