The next government must address “barriers” to work for asylum seekers as part of a programme for government commitment to end Direct Provision, the Irish Refugee Council has said.
Irish Refugee Council CEO Nick Henderson said the latest Department of Justice figures on the number of asylum seekers who are working or looking for work showed the “potential” of ‘right to work’ regulations but that barriers must be addressed.
The latest figures to June 2020 show that almost 6,500 asylum seekers have sought permission to work since the government introduced ‘right to work’ regulations two years ago, of which 71% -4,614- were granted permission.
Of those granted permission to work around half (2,187) found work and 30% (662) were working and living independently.
A nine-month waiting period before applicants can seek permission to work and difficulties opening bank accounts or securing a driving licence presented “barriers” to work for asylum seekers, Mr Henderson said.
“The numbers show the potential of the right to work and that, if it was broadened out, more people could work,” Mr Henderson said, adding that the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic would also have to be taken into account.
Nearly a third of people, who are working, are living independently and that shows that people can support themselves and contribute back to the economy.
The waiting time should be reduced to a maximum of three months or removed altogether, Mr Henderson said, adding that the whole asylum process and system needs to be overhauled.
“There is Direct Provision in terms of bricks and mortar and accommodation and there is the wider reception system, which includes the right to work and a vulnerability assessment, and those are the kinds of things that need to be addressed and changed as well,” Mr Henderson said.