Stephen has shown his support for a Bill going through Parliament this Wednesday 20 February aimed at allowing people seeking asylum in the UK the right to work.
The 10 Minute Rule Bill, brought by Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, and supported by a cross-party coalition of MPs, would let asylum seekers apply for work six months after making their claim for asylum. Under current rules people seeking asylum can only apply for the right to work twelve months after submitting their claim.
The Home Office aims to process all initial asylum claims within six months, but 48% go beyond that target. This means that asylum seekers are essentially banned from working while they wait for a decision on their application, living on the £5.39 a day the government provides in Asylum Support. Even after twelve months, individuals can only apply for jobs on the government’s narrow ‘Shortage Occupation List’ which includes roles like classical ballet dancer and nuclear waste disposer.
Stephen said: “As of September 2018, there were 585 supported asylum seekers living in Newham, which represents the highest figure since 2007. I have spoken to many individuals in my advice surgeries who have been waiting on their asylum claim for many months, or even years.”
“Giving asylum seekers the right to work would allow them to use their skills and live in dignity. It would offer those who have risked everything to find safety the best chance of integrating into their communities. It is – quite frankly – the sensible thing to do. This bill has my full support.”
Leave to bring in the bill was granted through a voice vote. While 10 Minute Rule Bills (a type of Private Member’s Bill) rarely become law, they can be an important step in gauging support and creating publicity around an issue.