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General Election 2019: our manifesto

Scottish Refugee Council’s call for a radical new approach to refugee protection in the UK

We are facing a UK General Election on 12 December 2019. Elections are an opportunity to change the narrative; we want all candidates and parties to commit to a new approach to refugee protection.

This is a time of unprecedented forced displacement across the world, much of it stemming from human rights abuses, grinding poverty and climate injustices. To help someone in their time of need should be a source of pride for us all. At Scottish Refugee Council, we want this election to be about positive and real change.

People seeking asylum should be able to find safety in the UK:

EU and international standards of refugee protection must be upheld and fulfilled.

We call for an immediate commitment to long-term refugee resettlement beyond 2021.

There should be safe and legal routes for people to claim asylum in the UK, including; a system of humanitarian visas so that people can apply for asylum from overseas; separated children in the UK should be allowed to sponsor their parents or siblings to join them; and existing safe routes must be safeguarded.

Nobody should be criminalised for claiming asylum. We call for an end to immigration detention; and no criminalisation of people who have entered the country irregularly.

 

People seeking asylum should have access to a just and fair asylum system:

The asylum system is a vital public service. We call for fundamental reform to the asylum system, including allowing people to claim asylum in Scotland and in other parts of the UK outside of Croydon; ensuring that people have access to, understand, and can exercise their rights; and investment in the system to ensure that its decisions are good-quality, fair and just.

No-one should be made destitute as a consequence of seeking refugee protection in the UK. To eradicate destitution, parties should commit to:

  • Restoring the right to work for people seeking asylum, including those whose asylum claim has been refused and who are not in a position to return.
  • Restoring the right to social security for people seeking asylum.
  • Ensuring that people are supported financially and in accommodation until a positive decision is made or the individual leaves the country.
  • Ensuring that rates of support are in line with mainstream benefits.
  • Granting temporary leave-to-remain and support to those who have had their claim refused but who cannot leave the country

People should be housed in suitable, safe and functioning accommodation which is not outsourced to private companies like Serco or Mears Group.

The asylum dispersal system must be radically overhauled to ensure that it works for all – ensuring that welcoming communities have resources available and feel informed, and that newcomers feel safe and welcomed.

 

People seeking asylum should be properly supported to rebuild their lives in the UK:

The two-tier approach between refugee resettlement and asylum must end. Everyone seeking refugee protection deserves statutory support, not just those who have been resettled here.

People should be able to rebuild their lives without an arbitrary review of their safety after 5 years.

  • All refugees should be given Indefinite Leave to Remain at point of decision.
  • Financial barriers should not be put in people’s way to apply for citizenship.
  • All residents in the UK, including refugees and people seeking asylum, should have the right to vote in all elections.

Our policy team has created a basic guide to who is able to vote in a general election and how people can register to vote. You can download the guide here.

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