I recognise that this is a very important issue; the UK has a proud tradition of providing a place of safety for refugees. Each claim for asylum is carefully considered and where it is found that individuals are in need of protection, asylum is given, with the ultimate aim of helping them to return home if it is safe to do so.
Asylum seekers are allowed to work, in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, if their claim has not been decided after 12 months through no fault of their own. The current policy aims to strike a balance between being equitable towards asylum seekers, while considering the rights and needs of our society as a whole, prioritising jobs for British citizens and those with leave to remain here, including refugees.
I should also mention that any asylum seeker who would otherwise be destitute is provided with free accommodation, utility bills and council tax paid and a weekly cash allowance with extra money available for mothers and young children.
The case allowance has been raised to £40.85 per week for each person in the household, representing an over 3 per cent rise. This is designed to cover essential living needs including food, clothing and toiletries.
In addition to this support, asylum seekers who are pregnant and young children aged between one year and three years each receive an additional £3 per week. Babies under one year receive an additional £5 per week. Furthermore, asylum seekers who are pregnant are eligible to apply for a one-off £300 maternity payment within eight weeks of their due date or if their baby is under six weeks old. These payments are intended to allow supported asylum seekers to purchase healthy food such as fruit and vegetables.
I know many have concerns over this allowance figure. The methodology used for the cash allowance has been recognised by the Courts as rational and lawful. You may be interested in reading about how this works here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-on-review-of-cash-all…. It is also important to factor in that NHS healthcare and education for children is provided free of charge.
I will continue to monitor closely the support available to asylum seekers to ensure sufficient support is provided.