I have been engaged in research examining the experiences of people with insecure immigration status living in Nottingham. Regarding the evident shortage of skilled and unskilled workers post-Brexit, there is an obvious solution – allowing asylum seekers to enter employment.
Many of the families we have spoken to live in substandard accommodation and rely on clothing and food banks. Contrary to the EU’s target of six months for a final decision – a target that the Home Office is now scrapping (Report, 8 May) – we have spoken to doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants and social workers who have been waiting for years while their skills and qualifications become redundant. In some cases they have mounted fresh claims. In other cases they are unable to return due to conditions in their home country making safe return impossible.
We have identified a dramatic impact on wellbeing. Most are unable to participate in society in a meaningful way due to the low level of support (£37.75 for an adult and nothing for those receiving final refusal). Almost everyone we have spoken to exhibited signs of depression and anxiety. For those that do return, denying employment will make their subsequent integration even more challenging.
The situation is exacerbated by a shortage of good-quality, legally aided advice. Desperate applicants are being persuaded by “consultancy” firms that promise biometric residence permits (which conveniently never materialise) in exchange for cash. Fresh claims typically require applicants to pay for country expert reports that are not funded. Law centres rarely do asylum work, and asylum solicitors have told us they are overwhelmed.
The Home Office’s hostile environment policy is alive and well, and we should all be shamed by it.
Nottingham Trent University