I spoke in the Westminster Hall Debate on No Recourse to Public Funds tabled by Stephen Timms MP on Thursday 8th October. You can hear my thoughts here:
Covid-19 has highlighted the failings in our system. I have been very concerned about migrants who have ‘no recourse to public funds’ who are often having to go to work when they’re ill or may have lost their jobs as a result of the covid-19 outbreak. Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister demanded the government suspend these rules so they can access the welfare support they need. I understand the government have said that no one will be charged for covid-19 tests or treatment, regardless of immigration status. This should be the bare minimum and we should be supporting asylum seekers and migrants who find themselves in financial hardship because of the crisis.
More widely, I believe we need to see significant improvements in the asylum system. The number of people waiting more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim has hit record levels. In the year ending December 2019, 29,218 asylum seekers had been waiting more than six months to receive an initial decision. This compares with 16,555 the year before – a 77% increase. All too often I see people at my advice centres who have been waiting an unacceptable length of time for a decision on their claim. We must improve the system so claims are assessed quickly so we can properly support those people who are seeking safety in the UK.