The UK ignores international conventions by preventing people seeking asylum from finding work. Relaxing the exceptionally stringent rules would boost the economy and could prove surprisingly popular.
9,380 people applied for asylum in the UK last year. This means that there were 5 applications for every 10,000 people living in the country. That’s little more than one third of the average in the European Union, which overall receives 14 applications per 10,000 people.
Despite the Government’s intentions to speed up the process, currently more than half of applicants waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim have been waiting for more than six months.
Since 2002, people seeking asylum in the UK are not allowed to work during the first year of their application. The UK is a continental outlier: no other country in Europe is so restrictive in denying people seeking asylum access to the labour market. Instead of the chance to earn a living for themselves and for their families, people seeking asylum are given a weekly cash allowance equivalent to just over £5 per day per person. At the end of 2018, there were 44,258 people receiving these payments.