Today, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has released new polling that reveals public backing for increased integration support for refugees in its new report, From Harm to Home

The new polling, carried out on 18thJanuary by YouGov, shows 64 percent of the public are in favour of the government increasing English language support for refugees, and 61 percent in favour of employment support for refugees. Given the correct support to integrate into their new communities, refugees and their families can thrive as they begin life in the UK. 

YouGov polling also released for the first time, shows 68 percent of UK business decision makers are in favour of allowing asylum seekers to work after they have waited six months or more for their asylum claims to be processed. Currently, they can only do so after twelve months. The majority of business decision makers (64 percent) believe that this would have a positive impact on the UK economy as a whole.  

With figures suggesting backing from the British public and UK businesses for a new approach, IRC’s From Harm to Home report sets out a three-point plan for the UK government to seize 2023 as an opportunity to invest in a more effective and compassionate response to global displacement and refugee integration by:  

  1. Scaling up safe routes, including a commitment to bring at least 10,000 of the most vulnerable refugees to the UK each year via their UK Resettlement Scheme.
  2. Developing a National Integration Strategy with a focus on early interventions, increased English-language support and tailored employment support. 
  3. Reinstating the post of Minister of Refugees in Cabinet so that refugee protection is represented, prioritised, and coordinated across government.   

Laura Kyrke-Smith, IRC UK Executive Director, said,  

The Government will not succeed in stopping boats crossing the English Channel unless there are safe alternative routes for those who need protection. New arrivals will not succeed in contributing to the economy and society unless the Government steps up its support for integration.  

Today’s report sets out a humane and pragmatic approach to resettling and integrating refugees in the UK. It’s an approach that the Government could adopt immediately. Our polling shows that the British public would welcome it: The majority back the enhanced support for refugee integration that we propose. And our polling shows that business decision makers see the benefit to Britain’s economy.” 

Zahra, IRC UK Programme Client said, “Integration support is so important for refugees to develop the skills and confidence they need to re-build their lives in the UK. 

English-language support is a key part of this, as it is challenging to settle-in with the local community if you can’t speak the language. Similarly, a lack of employment support hinders refugees’ ability to support themselves, and means that society is missing out on the benefits and contributions of new arrivals.  

I would encourage the government to support refugees with more English lessons to help people to learn the language in a shorter-time, and to provide refugees with more education and employment support to help open doors to a variety of jobs”