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Lift the ban

The Lift the Ban campaign urges the UK Government to lift its ban which prevents people who are seeking asylum from working.

Just Fair is a proud member of the Lift the Ban Coalition, which was set up by Asylum Matters and Refugee Action in 2018. This Coalition is made up of over 200 non-profit organisations, think tanks, businesses, trade unions and faith groups, who have come together to call on the UK Government to give people seeking asylum the right to work. 


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Why #LiftTheBan?


In the UK, some people are banned from working. People seeking asylum are only allowed to work after they have been waiting for a decision on their asylum claim for over a year.  While they wait months, and often years for a decision on their asylum claim, they are left to live on just £5.66 per day.

These people are left struggling to support themselves and their families, while their talents are wasted and their integration set back.

The few people who are granted permission to work are rarely able to because their employment is restricted to the narrow list of highly skilled professions included on the UK Government’s Shortage Occupation List.

Lift the Ban Coalition calls on the UK Government to ensure people seeking asylum and their adult dependants enjoy the right to work:

> unconstrained by the Shortage Occupation List

> and after they have waited six months for a decision on their initial asylum claim or further submission.

A Lift the Ban Coalition report explaining why lifting the ban is common sense


“We want to work, to pay bills, to pay tax. Put something into the community so that money can help the ones who really need help.”

The Lift the Ban Coalition produced a report outlining the reasons why allowing asylum seekers the right to work is common sense.

71% of the public agree that people seeking asylum should be allowed to work, and this is just one of the good reasons and practical arguments to #LiftTheBan.

Data shows that the UK has one of the longest lengths of time (in months) before people seeking asylum are given the right to work.

A change in policy could benefit the UK economy, through net gains for the Government of £97.8 million per year.

#LiftTheBan Local Activism Pack


This activism pack is for local organisations and individuals who want to help urge the UK Government to #LiftTheBan which prevents asylum seekers from working.

This activism pack has resources to help support people to campaign and to equip them with the tools to do so. There are also case studies throughout to inspire your activism.

It includes information on how to:

Engage your local MP

Engage local decision makers

Engage local media

Get other people involved

#LiftTheBan and human rights law


As shown in a report by Just Fair and the Lift the Ban coalition, lifting the ban on asylum seekers would also be in line with international human rights standards. In accordance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – which the UK has voluntarily committed to – everyone is entitled to just and favourable conditions of work, including a fair and decent remuneration, equal pay for equal work between men and women, safe and healthy working conditions, equal opportunities of promotion, and reasonable working hours and paid holidays.

Everyone should enjoy the rights recognised in the International Covenant, including refugees and people seeking asylum, who are at greater risk of facing discrimination in the enjoyment of their socio-economic rights.  

The body which oversees these human rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said “pending a decision on their claim to be recognised as refugees, asylum seekers should be granted a temporary status, allowing them to enjoy economic, social and cultural rights without discrimination”.

To read more, see the Lift the Ban Coalition and Just Fair’s briefing, ‘Lift the Ban: The Right to Work of People Seeking Asylum in the UK according to International Human Rights Law’ (2018)


Latest news in UK Parliament


Westminster Hall Debate

18 November 2020

Read the full transcript of the debate, or view the full debate.

Labour MP Neil Coyle secured this debate for UK Parliament MPs to exchange views on whether asylum seekers have the right to work. MPs from across the spectrum took part in the debate, Lift the Ban coalition research on annual cost savings of almost £100m was cited, and compassionate and fiscal arguments for lifting the ban presented.

House of Lords

9 September 2020

Read the full transcript, or view the full recording.

The House of Lords debated an amendment on right to work as part of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act. Lifting the ban received support from a wide range of peers, including Baroness Meacher, Baroness Hamwee, Lord Dubs, Lord Randall, Baroness Ludford and the Bishop of Durham.

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#LiftTheBan campaign news


On 21 October 2020, a petition with 181,399 signatures was handed in to the UK Government’s Home Office, asking for the UK Government to #LiftTheBan.

Lifting the ban would:

  • Save the UK Government’s Treasury £97.8 million per year

  • Mean people seeking asylum aren’t forced to live on £5.66 per day

  • Improve the mental health of people seeking asylum and lessen their vulnerability to exploitation

  • Allow people seeking asylum to contribute to the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery

Read more in our blog post here.

For more information about this campaign please get in touch with us ‘[email protected]‘.