THE UK Government must allow asylum-seeking doctors, nurses and other medics to help with the coronavirus fight, Scots MPs say.

Under current rules, people seeking asylum in the UK are restricted from working and can only apply for the right to work after they have been waiting for a decision on their sanctuary claim for more than one year.

Even then, those granted permission are rarely able to work because their employment is restricted to the UK Government’s Shortage Occupation List.

Now SNP MPs have urged the Home Office to change its rules in light of the public health emergency.

In the House of Commons yesterday, Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady pressed the UK Government to recognise the support and contribution that asylum seekers are keen to provide to key frontline services under pressure due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

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Meanwhile, Stuart McDonald, who represents Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, called for a rule change to allow people who have been cut off from public funds during asylum battles to access lifeline accommodation and resources.

Boris Johnson said: “This country will look after all the most vulnerable in society in the way that we always have, and the groups that the honourable gentleman mentions will certainly receive the Home Office funding that they need and deserve.”

The SNP is now calling for details to be set out as soon as possible.

In a joint statement, McDonald and Grady said a permanent shift is needed.

They stated: “We are in the midst of a crisis that is pushing many families and households into hardship. The SNP welcome the steps the UK Government, alongside the devolved governments, is taking to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

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“However, that support must extend to all groups and communities across the UK who are suffering and facing intense pressure. Restrictive Home Office rules are pushing asylum seekers to the brink.

The National:

“They have no route to access desperately needed support during this difficult time.

“There are also many asylum seekers across the UK who hold medical and healthcare experience, as well as other key skills, and are keen to help our frontline services but are unable to do so due to regressive right to work Home Office rules.

“It is vital that the UK Government steps in and changes its rules – not just temporarily, but permanently so that we can create a fairer society and where no one is left behind and where people are able to work and contribute to society.”

The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) has also written to the providers of housing for asylum seekers calling for protection against lock change evictions during the pandemic.

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That move was carried out in conjunction with other members of the StopLockChange coalition.

Its deputy director Alison Watson said: “We hope that at this point in time, when government guidance is to self-isolate and apply social distancing, that the state and its contractors will agree to put people before profit and provide the necessary shelter that these individuals so desperately need.

“Our solicitors will continue to advocate for better rights for this client group, alongside our collaboration partners. We cannot stand by and allow people to be evicted, regardless of their immigration status.

“This group of people deserve more compassion all the time but they deserve safety in these awful times.

“A cast iron guarantee that none of them will lose their homes during this emergency is needed urgently.”

Last night Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the SRC, told The National he welcomed Johnson’s support commitment, which came during that day’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions.

He went on: “We welcome MPs’ calls for right to work to be extended to asylum seekers during this crisis period and beyond. This crisis affects all of us.

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“People seeking protection in our communities have painful experiences of what it takes to reach out to one another in times of crisis.

“It is now more important than ever before to enable people to participate in vital work.”

Earlier this week the UK Government said that “nobody should find themselves starving in this crisis – and many charities will be supported through the measures the government has outlined to keep people employed”.

A spokesperson went on: “We understand that this is a difficult time and we are continually reviewing the situation to consider what more can be done for those

in the UK whose immigration status has been affected by coronavirus.”

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.