Swindon City of Sanctuary were invited to attend the Sanctuary in Parliament Event on 28/11/17 in the Committee Rooms inside the Palace of Westminster. The event was titled ‘Dignity not Destitution’, and was organised by City of Sanctuary and Asylum Matters, also attended by Refugee Action, the British Red Cross and the NACCOM (No Accommodation) network.

The group met and chatted with MPs Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland on the day, discussing issues that affect refugees and asylum seekers.

The proprosals put forward aim to prevent poverty and the risk of homelessness for those seeking refuge in the UK – both currently very prevalent issues.

The main proposal is to grant any asylum seeker who has been waiting for a decision on their case for over 6 months (the Home Office target period) permission to work in any sector. At present permission may only be granted after 12 months for those who fit the government’s very restrictive shortage occupation list  – which includes professional ballet dancers and geologists, skills which very few British people have!

This proposal would bring the UK in line with the approach taken by the majority of European countries and Canada – none of whom have seen an increase in false claims by economic migrants as a result.

 

By allowing these asylum seekers the right to work, it will:
  
a) eliminate the need for asylum support payments of £36.95 a week, saving the tax payer money and also raising additional public funds through taxes.
 
 b) allow them to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent homelessness by being able to build savings for their future.
  
c) reduce the incredibly high rates of depression and isolation created by preventing skilled, able people from working and intergrating into the community.
 The secondary proposals are to:
 
 a) increase the rate of asylum support from 50% to 70% of mainstream income support
(a return to the policy of pre-2015) to reduce poverty.
 
 b) extend the ‘Move On’ period of a refugee who has just received their ‘Leave to Remain’ from 28 days to 50 days to prevent homelessness. 50 days is a more realistic reflection of the time taken to get National Insurance numbers, residency cards and bank accounts, all of which are necessary to get a job or to find accommodation, and without which the majority of refugees end up homeless.
 
The increased costs of the two secondary proposals are more than met by the savings of eliminating asylum support payments for those who would be able to work instead, and with the increased tax revenue and enhanced mental wellbeing, the overall benefits are clear to see.
 
 The group met with both Justin Tomlinson MP and Robert Buckland MP to discuss the issues. Justin said “I have found it very helpful and am grateful you gave up your time to engage”. Robert, who has supported our work in the past and hosted us for tea during our visit, has requested further documents surrounding the issues raised and will meet with us again soon to see what progress he can assist with.