Jobcentres sanctioning refugees for learning English, watchdog finds
“Families who fled war in Syria are being wrongly sanctioned by jobcentres for attending English-language courses, the chief inspector of borders and immigration has said in a report critical of the Home Office.
David Bolt said recently arrived refugees faced “substantial barriers” to finding work and some had had welfare payments stopped while trying to learn English.
His report to the home secretary also said Home Office policy meant “particularly vulnerable” pregnant women were giving birth in refugee camps instead of in the UK despite being safe to fly.
Bolt said the vulnerable person resettlement scheme (VPRS), which aims to take in 20,000 refugees displaced by the Syrian conflict by 2020, was “essentially effective”. However, he criticised the Home Office’s lack of strategic oversight once refugees arrived in the UK, and accused it of appearing “closed to the idea that there is any room for improvement”.
Inspectors found it was default Home Office policy to “pause” all cases involving pregnancy until the child was born, “even when there was no indication of any risk and the woman was in the ‘fit to fly’ timescale”.
The Home Office said its policy on pregnant women was to avoid arranging accommodation in Britain where there was a risk the person would not travel for any reason, but it would emphasise to caseworkers that there “should not be an automatic assumption that they should not travel”.
The inspection also found jobcentre staff had not been given specific guidance or training on how to deal with refugees resettled under the VPRS, which has so far taken in more than half of the 20,000 target.
The absence of clear guidance meant some refugees had been sanctioned while undertaking English-language tuition rather than seeking work, the report said, and others had been refused applications for personal independence payments or disability living allowance.”
From TThe Guardian