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Today, I’m proud to launch the "Refugees Welcome?" report - the product of a public inquiry conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees which I chair. Refugees from across the country shared their experiences with the inquiry, and the report highlights a clear two-tier system in how we treat refugees which is leaving thousands homeless and destitute.

We found that those who arrive in Britain through a resettlement scheme receive more support than those who are given refugee status after they arrive as asylum seekers. For instance, when someone is given refugee status, they have only 28 days to find accommodation and to access public services before government support is withdrawn.

This can't go on.

The testimony I heard from refugees who contributed evidence to the inquiry was powerful, including those who I met during the enquiry’s visit to the Malcolm X Centre in Bristol. And it was frustrating to meet so many people capable of making important contributions to our society thwarted by delays in receiving documents, patchy English language provision, and a lack of employment and skills support.

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. Most refugees want to return home when the conflict is over but they want to contribute to this country in the meantime. These are often skilled professionals and, by definition, they all have strength and determination to offer.

The report recommends:

  • A Minister for Refugees overseeing a National Refugee Integration Strategy.
  • Increasing the “move on” period to 50 days to give families enough time to find adequate housing once they are granted refugee status.
  • A Home Office review to examine why there has been a sharp increase in the number of asylum applications that aren’t being decided within the target time of six months.
  • A strategy to increase provision of English language teaching.

I’m very grateful to all those who provided evidence for the report, especially refugees in Bristol who spoke so movingly about their experiences. I hope that this report will help to put an end to this unfair two-tier system, and force the government to look afresh at the welcome we give to people who seek sanctuary in our country.

Media coverage of the report today includes:

BBC News: Two-tier system leaving refugees in UK destitute, says report

The Guardian: Two-tier refugee system leaves many destitute and homeless, say MPs

The Times Red Box: We must fix two tier system that stops refugees contributing to Britain

Daily Express: Thousands of refugees risk homelessness because the government doesn’t provide enough help

Independent: Refugees arriving in UK immediately becoming homeless once they're granted asylum, report finds

Huffington Post: Refugees ‘Consigned To Homeless And Hunger By Government Policy’, Parliamentary Group Says

The National: UK can learn lessons from Scotland in supporting refugees, say MPs  

Refugees Welcome? Today's landmark cross-party report

Today, I’m proud to launch the "Refugees Welcome?" report - the product of a public inquiry conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees which I chair. Refugees from...

Election night 2015

As your MP, I have always stood up for what is best for Bristol West. And I always will.

Theresa May says she wants to make this election about Brexit: bring it on! My constituents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and I represented them in Parliament by voting against Article 50. My constituents don’t want this clueless government to inflict damage on our environment, our jobs, and our rights through the ‘Hard Brexit’ this government wants. As the MP I’m campaigning against this and for the best possible deal for Bristol. This election is the chance for people in Bristol West to tell the Tories loudly and clearly that they don’t want our country to career recklessly towards a hard Brexit.

Labour offers people an alternative government, built on fairness for everyone. We need a government which can rebuild our economy, tackle climate change, protect our vital services, and lead the country confidently into the challenges of the 21st century. Bristol West needs an MP who knows how to represent their interests in Parliament – I am that MP now and I hope to be after 8 June.

I will be doing everything I can in this campaign to help Jeremy Corbyn and the whole Labour team to make the case for a Labour government.

Fighting for Bristol West - my statement on the General Election

As your MP, I have always stood up for what is best for Bristol West. And I always will. Theresa May says she wants to make this election about Brexit:...

Last Friday, I was pleased to host representatives from major employers in Bristol West for a roundtable discussion on barriers to employment for those with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).

The National Autistic Society’s recent research into autistic people’s experiences of work highlights some stark inequalities. Just 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time employment. Furthermore, those with ASDs often experience negative treatment at work: 48 per cent of respondents reported that they’d been bullied or harassed at work.

There has been an increased awareness of the needs of those who have an autistic spectrum disorder. Yet the National Autistic Society has shown that many employers feel under-equipped to support staff, with 60 per cent of employers stating they didn’t know where to go for support and advice about employing an autistic person.

I was pleased so many large employers were able to join the discussion – many of whom had already taken great steps to recruit and support workers with ASDs. Representatives from Rolls Royce, Airbus, Bristol City Council, the University of Bristol, Network Rail, North Bristol NHS trust, Avon Fire and Rescue and Lloyds Banking Group all attended and spoke about what support their organisations put in place for autistic staff.

I was particularly pleased to work with the National Autistic Society’s Henry Barnes for the event, and to hear from a local worker on the autistic spectrum. Henry particularly emphasised that individual needs should be attended to, and that even positive myths surrounding ASDs can have the unintended effect of stereotyping and glossing over needs.

Autistic people have important skills they can contribute to a workplace, and many of the employers present shared great success stories from the processes they have put in place.

Conversations about autism and supporting autistic adults need to include employment. It was great to hear so many local employers keen to learn more about autism and how to support workers with ASDs in the workplace.

I’ll continue to campaign for Bristol to become a truly autism-friendly city, and I’m delighted that so many of Bristol’s employers are so keen to join me in achieving this goal.

Tackling the autism employment gap

Last Friday, I was pleased to host representatives from major employers in Bristol West for a roundtable discussion on barriers to employment for those with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The...

Thangam Debbonaire is the MP for Bristol West constituency. 

If you would like to contact Thangam to arrange a meeting or discuss a problem, please email thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk . 

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