End the counter-productive and costly ‘work ban’ on people seeking asylum

downloadThis article was published in Open Democracy

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.

Continue reading “End the counter-productive and costly ‘work ban’ on people seeking asylum”

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Bye, bye right to work?

Two recent reports by two important international institutions, the European Commission and the World Bank, have drawn the dark shape of the future of the right to work. In Employment in Europe 2010, the European Commission makes the following point: Unemployment in the European Union would be much higher shouldn´t it be for the flexibility of labour markets; this would explain the extraordinary unemployment rate in countries like Spain, near 20%, not at all characterised by the flexibility of its work market (although it is defined by the uncertainty of the short-term jobs for the youth). On the other hand, according to its Global Economic Prospects for 2011, the World Bank expects a progressive recovery of the economy this year, even when it acknowledges that “Unfortunately these growth rates are unlikely to be fast enough to eliminate unemployment and slack in the hardest-hit economies and economic sectors” (p. 14). Having said this, The World Bank opts for fiscal austerity and not for a stronger social protection for workers. Moreover, the Bank seems to present its ideology as an inevitable measure considering the unbearable weight of the current crisis. Continue reading “Bye, bye right to work?”