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Lift work bans: Lib Dems propose asylum system reform

The Liberal Democrats have promised that a Liberal Democratic government would allow asylum seekers to work after three months of their application and would strip the Home Office of their power over asylum policy making.

How does asylum work in the UK?

The UK currently demands that those requesting asylums abstain from work for a full 12 months.

Whilst they are unable to work, they may receive a small provision from the state, but this is a miniscule amount of £5.39 a day. This makes the process of waiting for asylum all the more difficult. In contrast, the cost of detaining a migrant is close to £86 per day. This means that the asylum process is leading to a net cost for Britain as asylum seekers are prohibited from contributing back to the economy.

Furthermore, whilst the Home Office claims that it aims to process all initial asylum claims within six months, close to 48 % of applicants wait longer than this.  

The Liberal Democrats policy proposal came in January of this year and has the backing of numerous charities and think tanks.

In October 2018, the Lift the Ban Coalition published a report detailing how blocking asylum seekers from working is cost the UK economy a possible £42 million each year. Furthermore, they state that an overwhelming amount of the British public, 71%, have shown support for the idea that asylum seekers should be allowed to work after six months. This has been supported by research from British Futures, a non-partisan British political think tank.

Sajid Javid, the government’s home secretary, has responded to these demands stating there are no current plans in place to lift the restrictive rules, but he would like to review the ban.

Lord Robert, a liberal democratic peer, has insists that the harms are not just economic but also impose difficulties in terms of social integration.

How will Brexit impact asylum policy?

Under the current EU framework, the Dublin Regulations stipulates that an asylums seeker may be legally returned to the first EU country that they passed through and they have a right to remain with their family.

In 2017, Britain granted 33,780 claims for asylum whilst France and Italy granted 99,330 and 128,850 respectively and Germany granted 222,560 applications.

If the Dublin Regulations are no longer in play, family separation is a real risk as the government has stated that if a no-deal Brexit is reached, no new applications made under the Dublin Regulations after 1 November will be considered.

Furthermore, if the UK is unable to return asylum seekers to the countries responsible for them. This in turn will mean that the system will be further inundated with applicants and resources which will be further strained.

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