The sound of silence

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): Jonathan Thomas

July 24, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation look at rethinking asylum seekers’ right to work in the UK.

This report by the Social Market Foundation provides a differentiated approach to asylum policy – specifically on their right to work – that can balance competing interests of workforce shortages, rights of claimants and public faith in the asylum system. Rather than treating all asylum seekers the same (with regard to their right to work before their asylum claim is determined), this report argues that the aim should be to maximise the numbers of working asylum seekers who are subsequently determined to be refugees. This requires targeting right to work at those asylum seekers most likely to be refugees – from ‘green’ list (high acceptance) countries; and restricting or strictly controlling right to work for those asylum seekers most likely not to be refugees – from ‘orange’ list (low acceptance) countries. The report also considers that asylum seekers given the right to work in the UK are likely to need significant support, and require better oversight of their employment arrangements, if the right to work that they have been given is to provide them with the reality of fair and productive employment. Such a policy approach would align with majority public opinion which supports openness to refugees, but takes into account the fact that not all asylum seekers are refugees, and requires appropriate control and consequences in respect of those who are not.