Merton Council calls on Government to expand asylum seekers right to work

Commenting on our decision to join the Lift the Ban Coalition, Councillor Marsie Skeete, Cabinet Member for Women and Equalities, said: “We should be proud that our country is seen as a safe haven by thousands who are forced to flee their home nations due to violence or persecution. However, the truth is that we still make life too difficult for those who are seeking asylum here.

“One example of this is the fact that people seeking asylum have only been able to apply for the right to work after they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over a year, and only if they can be employed into one of the narrow, highly-skilled professions included on the Government’s Shortage Occupation List. This punitive and unnecessary ban leaves many destitute and reliant on charity support.

“In February 2020, we committed to becoming a ‘Borough of Sanctuary’ for asylum seekers and refugees; thereby making the borough a safe and welcoming place for new migrants. Part of our duty as a Borough of Sanctuary is to stand up for these people when they face injustice, and that is why we’ve signed on to the Lift the Ban Coalition. “As part of the Lift the Ban Coalition, we’re lobbying Government to give the right to work in any occupation for everyone waiting for more than 6 months for a decision on their asylum claim. We urge the Government to do the right thing, and to give asylum seekers the financial security, dignity, and ability to assimilate into their communities that all come with the right to work.”