asylum seekers and refugees in UK could benefit economy with more support

Extending Support of Asylum Seekers Would Significantly Benefit UK Economy

Recent research conducted by LSE’s Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and British Red Cross has suggested that changes to the UK’s asylum policy – in the form of offering greater support to asylum seekers – would benefit the UK economy significantly.

Their research finds that, given more adequate support upon arrival to the UK, those granted refugee status could benefit the economy by £7 million pounds per year.   

While asylum seekers and refugees ought not to be reduced to the ways in which they can contribute to or benefit the UK’s economy, it is crucial to reinforce these findings in a bid to dismantle the ever-rising, vicious anti-immigration rhetoric which wrongly holds that those seeking asylum are a drain on the economy.

Such rhetoric often forms on the basis that asylum seekers and refugees are a burden to public services, housing and facilities – despite evidence consistently contradicting these claims. LSE’s new research challenges the limited support offered to asylum seekers both during and after a decision has been reached on their case, particularly with regards to timings.

refugees destitution and homelessness
Asylum seekers and refugees disproportionately fall into destitution and homelessness. [Image: Simon Rawles/British Red Cross/The Independent]

As it currently stands, asylum seekers who go on to be granted refugee status are given just four weeks to move out of their temporary asylum accommodation and move into new accommodation; to open a bank account; to find and secure employment and receive their first payment; or to apply for and receive mainstream benefits.

This distressing transition is only further exacerbated by such time-restrictive and unfeasible policies

To move homes and to secure a new job in such a short space of time would be a highly stressful and somewhat unattainable endeavour for those who have lived in the UK for their entire lives – not to mention those who have escaped traumatic situations and find themselves in a new, unfamiliar country.

Amounting this pressure on refugees has been widely condemned by human rights organisations for decades, as it can understandably lead to significant mental health difficulties; this distressing transition is only further exacerbated by such time-restrictive and unfeasible policies.

Calculations carried out by LSE suggest that, if this time limit of four weeks was to be extended to eight weeks – giving asylum seekers an additional four weeks to find accommodation and employment – the benefits could be astonishing.

Offering robust support ought to be a priority, as this would drastically reduce the need for refugees to rely so heavily on local authorities and services due to deteriorating mental health and the increased likelihood of homelessness and destitution.

Amounting this pressure on refugees has been widely condemned by human rights organisations for decades

In 2019, the British Red Cross provided over 16,500 people access to essentials such as sanitary products, clothing and food; 20% of these people had refugee status. The charity believes that, with a slightly more lenient, realistic time-frame to secure employment and housing, this figure could be greatly reduced.

With at least 7% of all new refugees rough sleeping, it is further proposed that extending this time-frame could save up to £3.2 million each year.

The benefits of providing extended support to asylum seekers and refugees throughout these initial stages in particular are vitally important and must rightly be re-evaluated in light of LSE’s research.

[Header image: Inside Westminster]

Written by
Holly Barrow
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