The Government has published the long-awaited white paper on immigration. Of particular relevance to asylum and refugee advocates will be Chapter 10, ‘Protecting the Vulnerable,’ which looks at the Government’s ambitions for asylum and resettlement policy. Commitments include providing support to the most vulnerable through resettlement schemes including post-2020; securing an ‘ambitious and well-funded English language strategy’; improving the quality and accuracy of decision-making to prioritise getting decisions right the first time; providing support to asylum-seekers who would otherwise be destitute; and exploring alternatives to detention. Of particular significance is the statement on the right to work for asylum-seekers which is worth quoting in full, as it signals the Government’s willingness to engage with the Lift the Ban coalition on reform.

10.14 Furthermore, we recognise the importance of work when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing, building a sense of wider contribution to our society, and for community integration.  That is why the Government has committed to listening carefully to the complex arguments around permitting asylum seekers to work.  We are considering all the evidence to ensure that our policy of right to work safeguards the integrity of both our asylum and immigration systems. 

On refugee family reunion, while the Government notes its intention to reach agreement with EU member states to ensure unaccompanied children separated from family members within Europe can continue to be brought together, it states that it maintains its position around refugee children in the UK not being allowed to sponsor parents. In a statement, the Refugee Council has said, “Despite there being clear cross party support for changes to be made to current refugee family reunion rules, the Government continues to deprive child refugees of the right to grow up with their parents and siblings.”

City of Sanctuary are still mobilising supporters around 3 key winnable policy asks. Please see further information here.