Home Secretary pushed to end jobs for migrants scheme by former cabinet ministers

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he believed the policy was wrong.

“I don’t agree that asylum seekers should work,” he said.

“There is a very long-standing policy that dates back to the Labour government in 2005 to allow people who’ve been here for years to work in certain occupations where there are supposedly shortages, but it just creates a pull factor to the UK.

“And almost everyone who comes here is either an economic migrant or a sort of asylum shopper, because they’re coming from safe countries like France and choosing to come to the UK because they think life is better here or a softer touch. And so I don’t think that’s the right approach.”

The New Conservatives group of about 20 MPs is writing to Mr Cleverly on Monday asking how the Home Office can justify such a “pull factor” for illegal migration and whether asylum seekers taking up jobs affects the likelihood of their asylum claim being successful.

“We cannot solve the significant problems associated with irregular migration unless we deter people from crossing to the UK illegally , and this is the opposite of a deterrent,” said Miriam Cates, co-chair of the group.

The Freedom of Information data show that 19,231 migrants applied for work permits in 2022 and 15,706 applications were granted. That represented nearly one-third of all the 51,000 asylum seekers in the one-year backlog of claims in 2022. Fewer than 5,000 were waiting more than a year in 2016.

The scheme allowing asylum seekers to take jobs after a year is a legacy of an EU law from 2005, which reversed a measure introduced by Sir Tony Blair in 2002 barring illegal migrants from any right to work.

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