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Home Office ban on asylum-seekers finding work causes harm and delays integration, government advisers warn

THE Home Office ban on asylum-seekers finding work causes harm and delays integration, government advisers warned today in a report calling for the policy to be reviewed.

The recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in its annual report comes a week after the Home Office concluded that the restriction should remain.

The MAC said it found clear evidence of harm caused by the ban and said there was “little evidence” that it provides any significant benefits. 

The policy prevents asylum-seekers from working while they wait for a decision on their claims. 

The Home Office released its decision of a three-year review into the policy last week, concluding that the ban would remain in place to reduce “pull factors” to Britain. It did not produce any supporting evidence for this conclusion. 

MAC chair Professor Brian Bell told reporters on Wednesday that the government should release the data to support its claim.

“It’s not enough to say there is a pull factor, you’ve got to have the evidence to support that and that’s all we’re saying the government produces.”

Mr Bell added that the Home Office’s review only looked at fiscal impacts.

“There are pull factors, but the pull factors that tend to be important are language and family and cultural ties,” he added. 

In its report, the MAC said asylum-seekers can become “disengaged” with the labour market while waiting for a decision on their claim, making it more difficult to get a job and therefore integrate if they are granted asylum. 

The report also highlights that Britain’s current policy is more restrictive than its European neighbours’, while an increasing backlog of asylum decisions has made it more “harsh.” 

“As waiting times for asylum applicants have increased, the work restriction has the potential to become more detrimental to the long-run success in the UK of those ultimately granted asylum,” the report states.

“The MAC would recommend the government review their policy on allowing asylum-seekers to work.”

Commenting on the MAC’s report, Refugee Action chief executive Tim Naor Hilton, speaking on behalf of the Lift the Ban coalition, said: “The government must now realise it’s fighting a losing battle.

“It’s time it came to its senses and realised that lifting the ban is a no brainer that would benefit everyone.” 

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