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February 25, 2021 1:42 PM

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the ban on asylum seekers working to be lifted, as new Home Office figures reveal that 46,796 people have been waiting more than six months for a decision on their claim.

The latest Immigration Statistics, published this morning, show a backlog of 64,895 people with pending asylum claims at the end of 2020, an increase of 27% since 2019. 46,796 have been waiting more than six months for an initial decision from the Home Office, a 60% increase.

Currently, asylum seekers are banned from working while they wait for a decision and forced to rely on asylum support payments of only £39.63 a week - just £5.66 a day.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

"It beggars belief that the Government not only keeps more than 40,000 people waiting for months for a decision on their asylum claim, but bans them from working too. It's bad for asylum seekers, bad for employers and bad for taxpayers.

"Conservative hostility and Home Office incompetence have created a system that no one trusts, and that fails to respect people's dignity.

"Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to finally lift the ban and give asylum seekers the right to work. That would give them an income and a sense of dignity, and save taxpayers money.

"People who've come to the UK having fled war or persecution should be welcomed with compassion. They should be enabled to contribute to our society, not trapped for months on just £5.66 a day."

The Immigration statistics, year ending December 2020, published today by the Home Office, are available here. Data on asylum applications are in table Asy_D03.

More details on Liberal Democrat policy on the Right to Work is here