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Asylum seekers could bring an additional £42.4m to the economy if they were allowed to work – a move that is overwhelmingly backed by the British public, a new study shows.

Under current rules, people seeking asylum are prevented from working while their claims are being processed. The Home Office aims to deliver decisions within six months, but almost half wait for more than six months, with some waiting years.

Asylum seekers can only apply for permission to work if they have been waiting for a decision for more than a year and, even then, only for jobs that are on a restrictive list.

Research by the Lift the Ban coalition, a group of 65 organisations, shows that if half of people seeking asylum earned a national average wage, £42.4m would be recouped by the government through tax and national insurance payments and savings on financial support.

The study also shows that the public is in favour of lifting the ban, with 71 per cent agreeing that people seeking asylum should have the right to work.

A survey of 246 people with direct experience of the asylum process revealed 74 per cent had secondary-level education or higher and over a third (37 per cent) held an undergraduate or postgraduate university degree.

Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents were working before they came to the UK, even though many of their countries of origin have been at war for years or have some of the world’s lowest employment rates.

The survey also showed that 94 per cent of people seeking asylum in the UK want to work.

Instead, they are left to live on £5.39 a day to meet all their essential living costs, including food, clothing, toiletries and transport. Many struggle to support themselves and their families, and may even become destitute. Read more

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