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Home Office Resisting Calls To Vet Asylum Seekers Work In The UK

Asylum Seekers

Home Office resisting calls to let asylum seekers work in the UK

Priti Patel’s department is resisting growing demands to allow asylum seekers to work following a public intervention from her cabinet colleague Dominic Raab to say that he would be “open-minded’ about the proposal.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, Conservative MPs and refugee charities have all called for the Home Office to allow 70,000 current claimants to seek employment after the justice secretary said a rule change could help to solve the UK’s current labour shortage.

But in testy comments that reveal frustration at Raab’s words, a senior Whitehall source said that if applications to seek employment were allowed, it would “create a pull factor for illegal immigration like never before”. “It would drive a coach and horses though our legitimate immigration system. We would see people who want to come here to work avoiding the system by just arriving and claiming asylum, before starting work the next day,” the source said.

Most asylum seekers are not allowed to work while their case is considered and instead rely on the government for housing and essential living needs. The Home Office has been reviewing the rules around allowing asylum seekers to work for three years.

The latest data shows that over 70,000 people were waiting for a UK decision on their initial asylum application – up 73% over the past two years despite a decline in the number of applicants.

Meanwhile, resettlement of refugees has not increased at the same rate. Only 308 refugees were resettled in Q2 2021, compared to a quarterly average of over 1,400 from 2016 to 2019.

MPs including the leader of the opposition increased pressure on Patel on Thursday to be as open-minded as Raab. Starmer told the Guardian the government should consider changing rules which “defy the common sense test”.

“I met a Syrian doctor who … was unable to work, because the claim hadn’t been properly processed. He desperately wanted to use his skills to help the community that made him very, very welcome and he was prohibited from doing so. That defies the common sense test,” he said.

Reacting to Starmer’s comments, a Whitehall source said: “Allowing asylum seekers to work will see more people making dangerous journeys to enter our country illegally. It’s as simple as that.”

Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said he would also allow asylum seekers to work because their claims are taking too long – in some cases more than a year – to process. “They should be allowed to work because the system is not working properly. I would like to see their applications to be processed a lot faster,” he said.

The Tory MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, David Simmonds, has been at the forefront of a campaign to allow asylum seekers to work and aid integration. “Because asylum seekers cannot work whilst they wait for a decision on their claim, and if successful are given just 28 days to move into new accommodation and find work or apply for universal credit, there are currently significant barriers to successful integration,” he wrote in PoliticsHome in April.

The former foreign secretary was asked by the Spectator magazine on Thursday whether he would support the measure given the current labour shortage. “I would be open-minded about it,” he replied.

“If [asylum seekers] learn the language and they can work, they integrate much better and they make a positive contribution.”

Responding, Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson in parliament, wrote on Twitter: “A very rare but welcome occasion on which I can agree with Dominic Raab! How can Priti Patel continue to resist the overwhelming logic?”

UK policy is more restrictive than those in most comparable countries. EU law requires member states to grant asylum seekers access to work after they have been waiting for nine months for a decision on their claim. Canada and Australia allow asylum seekers to work immediately. In the USA, they are eligible to work after six months.

In 2020, Germany received the highest number of asylum applicants in the EU, with 122,015 applicants. France received 93,475 applicants. In the same period, the UK received the fifth largest number of applicants, 36,041. This represents only the 17th largest intake when measured per head of population.

Dr Peter William Walsh, researcher for the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The backlog in processing asylum claims has increased sharply in recent years and is currently nine times higher than it was a decade ago. For almost all of these people, it would be illegal for them to take a job – 80% of cases are not addressed within six months, and many people wait more than a year.”

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “Thousands of skilled and talented people live on limited financial support in limbo awaiting a decision on their asylum claim for months or years on end desperate to be able to work to contribute to our communities. It’s vital they’re given this chance.”

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CBN gives fresh guidelines on dormant accounts, unclaimed balances in banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has directed all banks and other financial institutions in the country to transfer all dormant accounts and unclaimed balances and other financial assets to its dedicated account.

The apex bank disclosed this on Friday in a guideline on the management of dormant accounts, unclaimed balances signed by its acting director of the Financial Policy and Banking Regulation Department, John Onojah.

According to the circular, all dormant accounts and unclaimed balances with banks for at least ten years will be warehoused in a dedicated account known as the Unclaimed Balances Trust Fund (UBTF) Pool Account”.

Accordingly, CBN said the funds from Dormant Accounts, unclaimed balances may be invested in Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTBs) and other government securities.

However, the new Guideline which is a review of the Guideline issued in October 2015 exempted dormant accounts, and unclaimed balances under litigation and investigation.

“CBN shall treat unclaimed balances (dormant accounts and financial assets) as follows:

“Open and maintain the ‘UBTF Pool Account’; Maintain records of the beneficiaries of the unclaimed balances warehoused in the UBTF Pool Account;

“Invest the funds in Nigerian treasury bills (NTBs) and other securities as may be approved by the ‘Unclaimed Balances Management Committee’;

“Refund the principal and interest (if any) on the invested funds to the beneficiaries not later than ten (10) working days from the date of receipt of the request and where it is imperative to extend the timeline, a notice of extension shall be communicated to the requesting FI stating reasons for the extension,” it said.

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CBN’s decisive actions has strengthen the economy- Cardoso

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said in Abuja on Friday that its monetary policies and actions have stimulated growth and stability of the nation’s economy.

 

CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, said this during an engagement with Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions.

Cardoso said that given the positive indicators, Nigerian were in for better days.

He said: “The spread between official and BDC rates has narrowed significantly from N162.62 in January to N47.22 in June indicating successful price discovery, increased market efficiency and reduced arbitrage opportunities.

“The stock of external reserves increased to 36.89 billion dollars as of July 16, compared with 33.22 billion dollars as at end-Dec 2023, driven largely by receipts from crude oil related taxes and third-party receipts.

“In first quarter 2024, we maintained a current account surplus and saw improvements in our trade balance.

According to him, the nation’s external reserves level as at end of June can finance over 11 months of importation of goods and services or 14 months of goods only.

Cardoso said this was significantly higher than the prescribed international benchmark of 3.0 months, indicating a strong buffer against external shocks.

He said that the banking sector remained robust and diverse, comprising 26 commercial banks, six merchant banks and four non-interest banks.

“Key indicators such as capital adequacy, liquidity, and non-performing loan ratios all showed impressive improvements, underscoring the sector’s growing stability and resilience.

“The equity market has shown impressive performance, with the All-Share Index rising by 33.81 per cent and market capitalisation expanding by 38.33 per cent from Dec 2023 to June 2024, reflecting growing investors’ confidence,” he said.

Cardoso said that while CBN was encouraged by these positive trends, it remained vigilant and committed to implementing policies that support sustainable growth in the financial markets, while maintaining overall economic stability.

He also assured  members of the committee that required measures and strategies had been mapped out to confront emerging challenges.

“To combat inflation, we have implemented a comprehensive set of monetary policy measures.

“These include raising the policy rate by 750 basis points to 26.25 per cent, increasing cash reserve ratios, normalising open market operations as our primary liquidity management tool.

“And adopting Inflation Targeting as our new monetary policy framework,” he said.

Cardoso said in the area of banking supervision, CBN had taken decisive actions to ensure the safety, soundness, and resilience of the banking industry.

He said that key measures included intervention in three banks, revocation of Heritage Bank’s license, increasing minimum capital requirements, and enhancing AML/CFT supervision.

“We also introduced new frameworks for Cash Reserve Requirements and cybersecurity and prohibited the use of foreign currency collaterals for local currency loans,” he said.

Cardoso said that CBN was in the process of reviewing micro and macro prudential guidelines to reinforce the resilience of financial institutions to withstand tightened conditions, thereeby creating a secure and attractive investment climate.

“We have signaled our plans to re-capitalise deposit money banks in Nigeria to improve capital inadequacy and their capacity to grow the economy.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a more stable, resilient, and efficient financial system that can better serve the Nigerian economy, while adhering to international best practices,” he said.

Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Adetokunbo Abiru, said the purpose of the interaction was to update the committee on efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the CBN with respect to monetary policy.

 

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Nigeria’s external reserves surge to $35.77bn – CBN

Nigeria’s external reserves increased to $35.77 billion on Thursday up from the $33.09 Billion at the end of 2023.

This is according to Thursday’s data from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the country’s external reserves movement.

The figure represents a $2.68 billion increase in the country’s external reserves in the past six months.

Further data showed that Nigeria’s foreign reserve crossed the $35.05bn on July 8 to the $35.77 mark on Thursday.

Meanwhile, according to the recently released economic outlook by CBN, titled ‘Macroeconomic Outlook: Price Discovery for Economic Stabilisation’, the apex bank had projected a decline in the country’s external reserves in 2024.

The CBN based its assumption on continued payments of outstanding foreign exchange forward obligations, matured foreign exchange swaps, and debt service.

The apex bank, however, said, “the expected improvement in crude oil earnings, together with recent reforms in the foreign exchange market and energy sector, however, would cushion the drop in external reserves.”

The outlook also projected a marginal increase to $19.42 billion from $19.17 billion in 2023 for diaspora remittances.

“The external reserves, which stood at $33.09bn in 2023 could reduce slightly in 2024.

“This is on the assumption of continued payments of outstanding foreign exchange forward obligations, matured foreign exchange swaps, and debt service,” it said.

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