The recent ‘Refugees Welcome?’ report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees (which I chair) highlighted several problems faced by people in the UK who have been given refugee status. They only have 28 days to find accommodation and to access public services before government support is withdrawn, yet, for example, experience delays in receiving documents and a lack of employment and skills support. Refugees who contributed evidence to our inquiry also spoke of their difficulties in setting up bank accounts promptly – a problem that hinders their ability to make important contributions to our society.
This week, in topical questions to the Treasury, I was able to raise this issue with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury and was pleased to secure the offer of a subsequent meeting to discuss it.
The exchange was as follows:
Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West, Labour)
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, I am told by refugees that they are desperate to work once they have achieved such status, but are hindered by various fixable problems in the system. Will the Minister tell us what the Government are doing to make it easier for refugees to have bank accounts?
Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury
The hon. Lady will be aware that when the Home Office grants refugee status, it includes the biometric residence permit as proof of the holder’s right to stay, but I am very happy to discuss with the hon. Lady any further measures that she feels would be helpful.
You can watch the exchange here: