Young asylum seekers in Wales could soon receive a monthly payment of £1,600 and taxpayer cash to fight deportation under plans proposed by the country’s devolved Labour government.
The move would see asylum seekers who arrive unaccompanied in Britain as children effectively handed a monthly living wage from the age of 18, in addition to extra cash for legal fees to fight deportation orders.
A letter outlining the intention, which has been signed by three Welsh Labour ministers — Jane Hutt, Julie Morgan, and Mick Antoniw — has been sent to the Ministry of Justice for sign off. The plans are still in the development stage and would need the green light from the U.K. government in Westminster.
The letter asked the British government to ensure asylum seekers receiving the payment would still be eligible for legal aid, which is means-tested across Britain.
“We believe that care leavers have a right to be properly supported as they develop into independent young adults,” a Welsh government spokesperson said in a statement.
“Too many young people leaving care continue to face significant barriers to achieving a successful transition into adulthood than many of their peers.
“In line with our Nation of Sanctuary approach, we want to ensure that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are supported to rebuild their lives and are not prevented from accessing appropriate Welsh government schemes and benefits to support their integration,” they added.
Campaigners against big state intervention opposed the move. “Legal aid is rightly means tested,” said James Roberts of the conservative TaxPayers’ Alliance. “Illegal immigrants should not be allowed to claim this cash.”
“Last year we spent around £30 million on legal aid for asylum seekers and we will respond to the letter in due course,” a Ministry of Justice spokesman said in response.
Andrew Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservative parliamentary group, said: “At a time when our asylum system is being abused, we have to be tough to be kind. That’s exactly what the Conservative government is doing. I fear this move from Labour ministers in the Senedd will undermine that and I suspect the Welsh public will agree.”
“That’ll teach ’em,” tweeted Conservative MP Lee Anderson. “After a year of fighting our Rwanda Plan it looks like Labour finally have their own plan to tackle the migrant crisis.”
Former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney added: “That’s right: they will get a guaranteed income PLUS housing, meaning they’re better off than average taxpayers!”
Conservative commentator, Darren Grimes, said: “This is a pretty clear indication of what Labour would be like in power. Why wouldn’t you come here if our taxpayer is paying this?”
No comment has yet been made by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as to whether a future British Labour government would adopt a similar policy nationally.