MPs have strongly condemned the UK Government policies for creating a costly “two-tier system” of refugee protection that leaves many homeless and destitute.
The landmark cross-party report also accused the government policies of seriously damaging refugees’ prospects of integration.
‘Refugees Welcome?’ released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees, which the Refugee Council provides the secretariat for, found that refugees want to contribute their skills and talents to the UK, but face a number of barriers.
The report shows that people whose refugee status is granted following an asylum claim are left to rely on charities and local individuals.
Delays and confusion about important paperwork from Government departments; a cliff-edge of support following a positive decision on refugee status; patchy English language provision; and a lack of employment and skills support are all found to prevent many refugees integrating successfully.
The Chair of the APPG, Thangam Debbonaire MP, described the disparity as a “costly missed opportunity for Britain”.
The report recommends the creation of a National Refugee Integration Strategy, to be overseen by a specially appointed cross-departmental Government Minister for Refugees.
It also recommends more than doubling the so-called move on period from Home Office support, the time given to newly recognised refugees to find new accommodation after they receive a positive decision on their status. The current 28-day period often results in destitution for newly recognised refugees in the UK currently.
The government is further urged to provide extra support for newly recognised refugees and to streamline the process by which new refugees are assigned National Insurance Numbers and identity documents.
The APPG’s report also urges the government to provide extra funding for English language classes.
“A refugee is a refugee however they were granted status. Most will want to return home when conflict is over and in the meantime want to contribute to this country. These are often skilled professionals, and by definition, they all have strength and determination to offer,” said Thangam Debbonaire, Labour MP for Bristol West and Chair of the APPG. But there are administrative flaws in the system which could be easily fixed. Creating a two-tier system for refugees, loading the dice against people who come here to build a new life, is not just the wrong thing to do, but a costly missed opportunity for Britain.
“The UK can learn from the positives examples of the resettlement programme and the Scottish integration scheme to enable refugees to contribute and feel welcomed. Refugees bring so many talents and skills – they just need the opportunities to unlock their potential.”
Responding to the report, Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “It’s unacceptable that the Government treats refugees unequally by offering a relative few the necessary help and support they need to integrate into British life, while simultaneously consigning another much larger group to the high risk of homelessness, hunger and despair.
“These are people who have fled the same bombs and the same bullets; it’s vital the Government recognises that they need the same support to begin rebuilding their lives.”
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT