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Lift the Ban – a long update with 3 clear asks – prepare for October 12th 2021

A lot has been happening on Lift the Ban over the past couple of weeks and so this email is longer than normal. To help pick out the key points, below are three potential actions you might want to take from this email:

  1. Be ready to support our Lift the Ban push next Tuesday 12th October on social media;
  2. Sign the joint letter from businesses on right to work;
  3. Share the crowdfunder for a legal case on right to work.

Please do get in touch with any thoughts or questions!

With thanks and best wishes,

Mary at Asylum Matters

Increased calls for right to work – and our plans to make the most of this moment!

On 18th September The Spectator published an article making the case for the right to work. Following this, Dominic Raab was interviewed by the same outlet and stated that he would be “open-minded” about giving people seeking asylum the right to work. In the wake of this statement, other prominent Tory voices came out in support of lifting the ban, including Steve Baker, David Simmonds, Andrew Bridgen and Robert Buckland (the former Justice Secretary).  Keir Starmer was then interviewed by The Guardian and came out once more in strong support of lifting the ban, using our narrative that the ban doesn’t pass the “common sense” test.

Last week Refugee Action organised an event at Labour Party Conference to discuss the refugee protection system. Well-known Lift the Ban campaigner, Cathy Lebadou, took part in the panel alongside, among others, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas Symonds and Shadow Immigration Minister Bambos Charalambous. The event helped to generate a flurry of support from across the political spectrum on right to work. For starters, Thomas Symonds confirmed at the event that Labour will be putting down an amendment on right to work in the Nationality & Borders Bill (we’ve been working with them on this). Next, we saw an influx of Tory voices and right-wing commentators supporting our campaign, including Tom Harwood (GB News) and Fraser Nelson (The Spectator – who also used the phrase “common sense”).

We will be capitalising on this momentum through:

  • Hopefully publishing an OpEd this Friday in the Times Red Box on right to work;
  • Releasing a new media package next Tuesday 12th October that will include:
    • Polling that shows what each constituency across the country would say on right to work – using these results to show how Tory constituencies support the policy;
    • Updated financial analysis on how much the Government would earn if people were given the right to work (taking into account the asylum decision making backlog);
    • Stories and quotes from focus groups carried out in the summer with those in the asylum system;
    • New content to promote the package on social media;
  • Supporting local partners to engage with their local MP later in the month, using the constituency polling to give tailored messaging on why right to work is supported by local constituents.

How you can help: look out for updates on this next Tuesday and promote the content and your social media channels.

A mini-win for Lift the Ban
In our last update we asked you to share a campaign video of a Home Office official stating that there were no plans to review right to work. Well, thanks to your support, we were able to generate enough pressure that the Home Office had to back-track almost immediately and has now claimed that the official “misspoke” and confirmed that the review is, in fact, “ongoing”. Thank you to all of you who helped to hold the Home Office to account on this. It shows that our voice, as a movement, is one that will be noticed!

Crowdfunder for right to work legal case

A doctor who has been repeatedly refused permission to work by the Home Office on the sole basis that he is a dependent on his wife’s asylum claim is applying for a judicial review to challenge the decision, as well as challenging the legality of the Home Office’s policy in relation to dependent’s asylum claims. He has been refused legal aid funding and his lawyers at Duncan Lewis have set up a Crowd Justice page to help raise funds. You can read about the case and find out how to help here: Any support you can give to promoting this crowd funder would be much appreciated.


High Court legal ruling

The High Court has ruled the policy on asylum seekers working broke the law by failing to consider the best interests of children, with the judge urging the Home Office to take a “more humane approach”. You can read more about the case in the Independent. We’ll be looking to find out the implications of this ruling and will share when we know more.


Lift the Ban Experts by Experience Conference

In late September, Lift the Ban campaigners with lived experience of the ban came together to discuss the next steps for the campaign, share learning and experiences from the past 3 years of campaigning, and build up momentum once again. The event was brilliantly organised and hosted by coalition members RAS Voice, MIN Voices and the Voices Network, who shared their inspirational work on the campaign so far and facilitated important discussions about the future of the campaign. You can read the notes from the discussions and see the presentations from the event attached below. Huge thanks to everyone who organised and participated in the event, we’re immensely proud of the campaigners with lived experience who are the backbone of this campaign.


Business initiative by the Launchpad Collective

The Launchpad Collective, a coalition member based in Sussex, will soon be launching a new initiative aimed at securing and showing business support for the Lift the Ban campaign. Their campaign will aim to mobilise business voices at this crucial moment, as the UK is struck with labour shortages, by asking them to sign a joint letter from the business community to the Chancellor and Home Secretary calling for asylum seekers to be given the right to work, and inviting businesses to join the Lift the Ban coalition. For more information and to sign the letter, please contact [email protected].


Local constituency lobbying at the end of October

As mentioned above, we will be looking to engage MPs across the UK on Lift the Ban towards the end of the month, using the results of the new constituency polling and any local media pieces generated by our plans as a hook to approach them with. In the next few weeks, we will be sharing template letters reflecting the current situation that you can adapt as you see fit and use to approach your MP. We’ll also make sure you are equipped with the constituency polling data you need to make a strong case to your MP about the local and national support the right to work enjoys.

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