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Problem or Opportunity? Asylum Seekers, Refugees, Employment and Social Exclusion in Deprived Urban Areas

Jenny Phillimore and Lisa Goodson
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Jenny Phillimore: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Binmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK, j.a.phillimore@bham.ac.uk
Lisa Goodson: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Binmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 10, 1715-1736

Abstract: The UK has become a leading proponent of European restrictionalism and has focused its efforts on developing policy that excludes asylum seekers from mainstream society. Dispersal policy has focused upon sending asylum seekers to excluded urban areas where there is an excess of available housing. This paper discusses the potential impacts of this approach on the economic prosperity and social cohesion of UK dispersal areas and focuses specifically on new migrants who arrived under the NASS dispersal programme. It demonstrates that, whilst newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs) have both skills and qualifications, they are currently experiencing high levels of unemployment and those who are employed are working in low-skilled jobs with earnings far below the average. The paper contends that the high levels of unemployment and underemployment currently experienced by ASRs may serve to exclude them from society in dispersal areas and in so doing exacerbate the general levels of social exclusion in those areas. It is argued that ASRs could offer new opportunities for deprived areas if initiatives were introduced to help them access work commensurate with their skills and qualifications.

Date: 2006
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