Local authorities in the north-east of England don’t want any asylum seekers living there
What it means: An asylum seeker is someone who wants to live in the UK because of a fear of being persecuted in their home country. If the UK government looks into their case and concludes their fear is valid, they are then called a refugee. The UK had 26,350 asylum seekers in 2017.
Asylum seekers don’t have any effect on British employment or wages (because they’re not allowed to work) but they do collect government support, which is partly funded by our taxes. This consists of housing (they can’t choose where) and £37.75 per person, per week, plus a couple of extra quid for pregnant women and very young children.
The total cost to the government, per year, is about £155 million (or a fiver a year from every taxpayer). As a comparison, the government spends £111 billion on pensions each year.
So the cost of asylum seekers is pretty tiny. But money isn’t the only thing people value when making decisions. Our culture, our morals and the society we grew up in all matter too. Which seems to be what has happened if, as the Guardian suggests, local northern councils have indeed refused to let any asylum seekers live in their areas.
The councils have apparently said they’re worried about “social cohesion” and far-right activity. Basically, they’re suggesting that enough locals severely dislike foreigners that it is a risk to both public order and the asylum seekers themselves to have them living there.
The Home Office (i.e. the bit of our government responsible for law and order) says this is kinda true, but it’s actually only asylum seekers with criminal convictions that aren’t allowed to settle up north. Lawyers for the asylum seekers says this is discrimination.
We’ve moved beyond a world where your country was all that matters. Our economies have become bigger than we realise. Things we use are less and less likely to come from our own country and more likely to have been imported from a country across the globe – this has become so normal that we’ve forgotten what a huge implication this has for how our economies work…