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Greens: 'lift the ban' on asylum seekers working

Green Councillors call for end to illogical ban on asylum seekers supporting themselves

At a Full Council meeting this Tuesday (March 17), Bristol Green Party councillors are supporting the Lift the Ban campaign, which seeks to remove the ban on asylum seekers working while waiting for their asylum decision.

Until 2002, people seeking asylum could apply for permission to work if they had been waiting for six months or more for an initial decision on their asylum claim. Almost half of main applicants currently waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim have been waiting for over six months.

Asylum seeker support allowance is currently just £5.39 per day, so with a ban on working this forces asylum seekers to live in poverty.

The Lift the Ban campaign, a coalition of charities, councils, unions, and community organisations, are working to change this. There is a petition to Bristol City Council calling on it to join the campaign, and meanwhile to do more to support asylum seekers that are forced into destitution by the ban.

The Green Party of England and Wales are a long-time supporter of the campaign, and in Bristol, Green councillors are working with Student Action for Refugees (STAR).

Leader of the Green group of councillors, Eleanor Combley, proposed a motion on the issue to Bristol City Council. She said:

“This ban is cruel and unnecessary, forcing people to live in poverty and dependence, making it harder for them to integrate and to contribute to our society, and meaning that all of us miss out on the contribution they could be making through their work. No wonder that, in recent surveys, 71% of the British population support lifting the ban on asylum seekers working after 6 months.”

Unfortunately the motion is unlikely to be debated this month due to time constraints, so Cllr Combley has also submitted a question directly to the Mayor asking him to back the campaign, rather than waiting for the next Council meeting to debate it.

Cllr Combley explains:

“I proposed the motion because I am keen for Bristol to lead on this issue. However the Mayor does not need to wait for permission from Full Council. If he wants to he could sign the Council up to join the coalition today. We hope he will.

“I encourage everyone concerned about the wellbeing of asylum seekers to sign and share the petition, and write to their councillors and the Mayor, asking them to support the campaign.”


1.       Lift the Ban petition:

2.       Motion proposed by Greens backing the campaign.

3.       Question submitted to Members Forum by Green councillor Eleanor Combley:

MEMBER FORUM – 17 MARCH 2020                            GREEN QUESTION 4

Question to the Mayor from Councillor Eleanor Combley

Subject: Lift the Ban

Following a law passed in 2002, people seeking refugee status in the UK are banned from working while they wait months, and often years, for a decision on their asylum claim.

Will the Mayor support Bristol City Council joining the national Lift The Ban coalition and commit to play an active role in it?

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