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refugee status, they have only 28 days to find accommodation and to access public services before government support is withdrawn.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:
The Times Red Box: We must fix two tier system that stops refugees contributing to Britain