This is my blog, and my chance to sound off once in awhile so I'm going to take my chance and probably start a heated debate while I'm at it.
In my job as a housing benefits officer, I have lost track of the amount of times I hear the comments along the line of 'we shouldn't be paying so much money to asylum seekers/immigrants/foreigners'- *delete as appropriate. This kind of comment is made by a wide range of peoople including colleagues, managers and claimants. It really rubs me up the wrong way as it shows a basic lack of understanding of what the reality is! I bite my tongue and grin and bear it, in order to keep the peace. I also know that this way of thinking is so ingrained in some peoples thinking, that no amount of persuasive arguments will help them change their minds.
Here are seven facts about immigration and asylum seekers that people may find interesting:
1, More people emmigrate each year from the UK than immigrate into the UK. 336'000 emigrated last year and 239'000 immigrated here.
2, Persons claiming Asylum are often held in 'detention centres' (similar to prisons). 25,900 people were held in detention in 2010 including 9 children despite the government stating they would end the practice of detaining children.
3, Persons claiming Asylum are not given money to live on, but are given an Azure card which is credited with £35 for a single person (compared to £67 Jobseekers Allowance) and can be used in a limited amount of supermarkets for food. Here is an interesting article on the reality of using these cards -http://www.irr.org.uk/news/a-cashless-society-the-other-side-of-the-coin/
4, Refused asylum seekers are not given any monies to live on, leaving families and persons destitute.
5, Refugees (including families) are usually housed in cramped shared accommodation with no private quarters. I saw an excellent exhibition at St Fagans Museum in Cardiff which included a mock up of one of these houses. It was definitely an eye opener.
6,The benefit rules for immigrants are extremely complex, and relatively few qualify for any assistance. 371,000 foreign-born claimants are claiming for out-of-work benefits, out of a total 5.5 million recipients, which is relatively a small percentage.
7,90% of social housing tenancies are held by people born in the UK
Here is an interesting article, which you may want to read- http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/16/asylum-seekers-survive-on-streets
I know the issue is complex, and there are those which enter the UK to take advantage of what the UK has to offer in terms of benefits etc, but in reality this pales into insignificance when you compare the monies we pay out to long term benefit claimants who have been born in the UK.
There are a whole raft of benefit reforms due in, in the next few years which are going to dramatically change our welfare system. Some of the changes I agree with, some I don't. I will be blogging more about these issues, as it is something that I feel strongly about, especially as I work on the front line of a benefits office.
I am sure that there are people reading this who disagree passionately with what I have , but everyone is entitled to an opinion. This is simply mine.