Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, will be bringing a Bill to Parliament this Wednesday 20 February aimed at allowing people seeking asylum in the UK the right to work.
The bill, which is supported by MPs including the Conservative Caroline Spelman and Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine, would let asylum seekers apply for work six months after making their claim for asylum.
Under current rules people seeking asylum can only apply for a right to work twelve months after submitting their claim and even then they can only apply for jobs on the government’s very narrow ‘Shortage Occupation List’ which includes roles like classical ballet dancer and nuclear waste disposer.
West argues that giving people seeking asylum the chance to work sooner and without being limited to the occupation list would help them escape poverty, rebuild their lives, and integrate with their communities.
Catherine West said: “An asylum seeker receives £5.39 a day to live on – an allowance that needs to cover clothing, transport, and food. I believe that people who have risked everything to find safety should have the best chance of contributing to our society and integrating into our community. Giving asylum seekers the right to work allows them to use their skills and live in dignity.”
In Catherine’s article in The Times she sets out why she believes it’s so important the ban is lifted.
Paul Hook, a spokesperson for the Lift the Ban campaign said: “We are delighted to see Catherine West and other 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 Lift the Ban coalition  consists of over 160 charities, businesses, unions, and faith groups including the CBI, TUC, Church of England, Ben & Jerry’s, Refugee Action, and Asylum Matters. Its research , published in October 2018, showed that preventing asylum seekers from working is pushing them into poverty and that almost three-quarters of the public support the idea of giving them the right to work.
In December 2018 the Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that the Home Office would review the policy of banning asylum seekers from working .
The full list of co-sponsors to Catherine West’s Bill is: Andrew Mitchell MP, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, Anna Soubry MP, Christine Jardine MP, Deidre Brock MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Kate Green MP, Janet Daby MP, Alex Sobel MP, David Lammy MP and Alex Cunningham MP.