• Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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Allow asylum seekers to work in UK: Committee

The UK’s social care sector has been going through severe shortages of staff. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

AN INDEPENDENT advisory panel of the government has favoured lifting the ban on asylum seekers from working in the UK.

In its annual report unveiled on Wednesday (16), the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said care workers should be given access to fast-track visas.

There was clear evidence of the harm being caused by the ban on employment, the committee, headed by Prof Brian Bell, said and added that jobs should be made available under the health and care visa.

The report comes amid shortages of staff in the social care sector as a fallout of Brexit and the rule that workers should be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“We urge the Government to review the ban on employment for asylum seekers. There is clear evidence of the harm that this causes… and little evidence that we are aware of that it provides significant benefits. The harm is exacerbated by the increasing numbers of asylum seekers who are having to wait over six months for an initial decision on their application,” it said.

Britain’s current rules do not allow asylum seekers to work in the UK unless their claims have been outstanding for 12 months through no fault of their own. After the period, they can apply for only specific jobs on the official shortage occupation list, after getting permission from the Home Office.

“Given the severe and increasing difficulties faced by the care sector, the report brings forward preliminary findings on adult social care. The MAC recommends the government make care workers immediately eligible for the health and care worker visa and place the occupation on the shortage occupation list,” the committee said.

It was also not convinced by immigration minister Tom Pursglove’s statement that a less stringent policy would act as a “pull factor” for others to come to the UK and undercut the resident labour force.

The committee said it did not see any evidence in support of the minister’s assertion.

“It’s not enough to say: ‘There’s a pull factor’. You’ve got to have evidence to support that. You can’t come to conclusions if you’re not willing to tell us what the evidence is on one side of the equation,” Bell said.

In June 2021, there were about 56,600 asylum applications pending an initial decision, of which 75 per cent had been waiting for more than six months, The Guardian said.

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