Majority of businesses in favour of increased support for asylum seekers wanting to work
A large majority of UK businesses are in favour of allowing asylum seekers to work after waiting at least six months for their claims to be processed, new figures from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) have revealed.
The report, ‘From Harm to Home’, finds nearly 70 per cent of UK business ‘decision makers’ believe the time asylum seekers must wait before working should be halved from 12 months down to six, with 64 per cent thinking this would benefit the economy.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) supports this consensus.
“Small firms are faced with a widespread labour shortage, so we’d like to see measures to help small businesses access talents from across the world,” Tina McKenzie, policy chair of the FSB, told City A.M..
“We support the campaign to ‘lift the ban’ on people seeking asylum’s right to work.”
The FSB also call on the UK government to “allow people seeking refugee status to participate in the world of work after they’ve waited six months for a decision”.
“We’d also like to see a nation-wide refugee entrepreneurship programme to support aspiring refugee business owners”, McKenzie added.
The Home Office was approached for comment.
This comes as the figure for Britain’s unemployment rate could be three times higher than official statistics, according to a report from the Centre for Cities.
The IRC poll, carried out on 18 January 2023 by the IRC and YouGov, also shows the majority of the public agree the government should ramp up English language support for refugees, and 61 per cent also back employment support.
“Today’s report sets out a humane and pragmatic approach to resettling and integrating refugees in the UK. It’s an approach that the government could adopt immediately”, said Laura Kyrke-Smith, IRC UK executive director.
“Our polling shows that the British public would welcome it: The majority back the enhanced support for refugee integration that we propose. And our polling shows that business decision makers see the benefit to Britain’s economy,” she added.
The online survey of 2,000 members of the British public says it was “nationally and politically representative”.
The IRC recommended a three-point plan which includes providing over 10,000 resettlement sites, developing a ‘national integration strategy’ and reinstating the Cabinet post of minister of refugees.
Zahra, IRC UK Programme Client, said integration support is vital for refugees to “develop the skills and confidence they need to re-build their lives in the UK”.
“A lack of employment support hinders refugees’ ability to support themselves, and means that society is missing out on the benefits and contributions of new arrivals.”
Increased education and employment support would “help open doors” to more opportunities for asylum seekers, she said.
According to the Refugee Council, under current government laws, asylum seekers who are not allowed to work are given less than £7 a day to live on.