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Lib Dems in bid to change asylum seeker employment rules

by Steve Beasant on 10 January, 2019

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine will today introduced a Bill in Parliament which would give asylum seekers the right to work after three months of arriving in the UK. 

Currently, asylum seekers in the UK can only apply to work if they have been waiting for than 12 months for their claim to be processed. The conditions are highly restrictive an among the toughest in the western world.

Ms Jardine’s Bill has received cross-party backing, including the Lift the Ban coalition.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said: 

“Right now, banning the vast majority of asylum seekers from seeking employment costs the tax payer millions in housing and support payments. It also forces people who have risked everything to come here to live on the very periphery of society.

“Being denied the right to work, and to put food on the table for you and your family, is cruel and undignified.

“If passed, my Bill would recognise the contribution genuine asylum seekers want to make to our society by allowing them to work after three months of lodging their claim for asylum.

“This change would also allow them to learn English faster and integrate into their local communities. For me it’s a no brainer.”

On behalf of Lift the Ban, Paul Hook added:

“We are delighted to see politicians from across parliament continue to support the Lift The Ban campaign.

“We urge the government to listen to these voices – including many from within their own party – and finally give people seeking asylum the right to work and to earn a living.

“The majority of the British public think it’s the right thing to do, it would be transformative for people seeking asylum, and the idea is widely supported by businesses nationwide”.


According to Refugees Welcome? published in 2017 by the APPG on refugees, the Government spends between £70m – £100m a year housing and supporting asylum seekers who could be working, earning, and fending for themselves.

The text of the Bill can be found below:

Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) Bill

A Bill to make provision for certain asylum seekers to be granted permission to work; and for connected purposes.

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