Afzal Khan with supporters of Refugee and Asylum Seeker Voice (RAS Voice) Group
Afzal Khan with supporters of Refugee and Asylum Seeker Voice (RAS Voice) Group

Manchester Gorton MP calls for people seeking asylum to be allowed to work

Afzal Khan, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton, has declared his support for the Lift the Ban coalition which is calling on the Government to let people seeking asylum in the UK work while their claim is processed.

Khan made the call after talking to the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Voice (RAS Voice) group, made up of refugees and asylum seekers who campaign together in Greater Manchester.

Afzal Khan MP said: “People seeking asylum are fleeing war and persecution. Currently their skills and expertise are going to waste because they are only allowed to work twelve months after their claim has been submitted, and only from a very restrictive list of occupations.

“The people I have met who are seeking asylum talk about how they want to live in dignity, contribute to their communities and provide for themselves and their families.

“In Manchester we pride ourselves on providing a place of sanctuary for those that need it, but we must make sure that people are given the chance to rebuild their lives. These restrictions on being able to work forces people to live on just £5.39 a day provided by the Government. Often this means they are driven to deprivation and poverty.

“That’s why I’m supporting the Lift the Ban campaign which wants to see the Government allow people seeking asylum the right to work six months after submitting their claim, without any restrictions on the type of job they can do.”

The Lift the Ban coalition, formed of over 175 businesses, unions, campaigns, and faith groups, has revealed that such a move by the Government would be supported by 71% of the British public [1], as well as helping to reduce the incidence of poverty among people seeking asylum. They also argue that the UK’s policy makes it an outlier amongst most Western nations [2].

Jonathan Kazembe, who supports the RAS Voice group, said: “We’re thrilled to have the support of Afzal Khan MP on this issue. People seeking asylum simply want to be able to rebuild their lives, and work plays a key role in being able to do this. Both refugees and people seeking asylum have so much to give to our local communities and we thank Afzal Khan for highlighting our cause.”

The Labour Party formally committed to restoring the right to work for people seeking asylum in October 2018.

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