Myths & Facts

Myth: Asylum seekers come to exploit our benefits system.

The Fact: Asylum seekers are NOT ALLOWED to claim any mainstream welfare benefits and are barred from working. An adult receives £38.96 a week, 30% below poverty line. In contrast a single UK pensioner, in 2003, received a guaranteed income of £98.15 a week.

Myth: Asylum seekers are more likely to commit crimes than anyone else.

The Fact: Association of Chief Police Officers confirm that there is no evidence of this. In fact asylum seekers are more likely to be victims of crime in the UK than anyone else.

Q. How many refugees are there worldwide?

A. In 2003 there were around 17.1 million refugees worldwide out of which only thousands came to the UK to seek protection. Immediately after the Afghan/Russian war of the 1990s, in comparison almost 3million refugees crossed into Pakistan and most of these are still resident in Pakistan today.

Q. Why do asylum seekers come to the UK?

A. The Institute of Public Policy Research, an independent think tank has reported that asylum seekers from the top ten countries of origin are driven by war, persecution and human rights abuses rather than by poverty.  At the end of 2003 the UK was only taking about 0.4% of the UK population in asylum seekers. The truth is that the vast majority of asylum seekers (refugees), 72% seek refuge in neighbouring poor developing countries

These facts are based around figures which became available just after the last Assembly elections and yet some of these facts were misrepresented by some candidates at the election.  Facts supplied by the Welsh Refugee Council

Myth – we have to talk for the disabled – because they aren’t capable.

Fact – people who take over for another person really deprive that person of a sense of self worth and dignity.

Myth – Our Council tax keeps being raised to pay for asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees

Fact – The Home Office directly meets costs of incurred for asylum seekers. Asylum seekers do not have right to work in the UK, and 70% of asylum seekers are sent back to their countries of origin. Council tax levels increase to support the needs of all residents. Refugees and other immigrants pay Council tax like everyone else.

Myth – We are being swamped by asylum seekers.

Fact – The UK is home to less than 3% of the world’s refugees –around 310,000. Compare this to one city, Peshawar on the Pakistan-Afghan border, the city alone has almost 250,000 refugees. Numbers of asylum seekers coming to UK has to drop over recent years. However the skills that refugees have brought to the UK is immense e.g. there are over 1,500 refugee teachers and over 3,000 refugee doctors in the UK – an invaluable resource at a time of shortages

Who is a ……..?

Asylum Seeker –
Someone who is fleeing persecution in their homeland, has arrived in another country, made themselves known to the authorities and exercised the legal right to apply for asylum.

Refugee –
Someone whose asylum application has been successful and who is allowed to stay in another country having proved they would face persecution back home.

Migrant Worker –
A migrant worker is a person who migrates from one country to another for the primary purpose of work, whether permanently or temporarily.  Collectively migrants add to the culture and diversity of the region, enriching life in the UK for everyone.

5.    Myth – Gypsies and Travellers don’t care about society.

Fact – Gypsies and Travellers are engaged in many paid and voluntary activities supporting local communities and national life.  They fought and died for this country in both world wars.  Today, despite barriers to health and education services, increasing numbers of children are enrolled in school.  Although often rebuffed, they want to engage with the wider community and promote mutual understanding.  Many actors and entertainers also have Gypsy backgrounds, such as Bob Hoskins, David Essex and Charlie Chaplin.

6.    Myth – Impairment is an inevitable part of aging

Fact – many people grow old without any significant reduction in their ability to function, particularly if they are supported with good healthcare and nutrition, and they have the opportunity to lead active lives.

7.    Myth – Religion causes conflict and wars.

Fact – Although there have been holy wars and many violent religious fanatics, the major religions discourage war and advocate peace.  Their devout have worked hard and made sacrifices to promote justice and peace.  But religious practices can conflict with secular standards and other religious values.

8.    Myth – Religion brainwashes.

Fact – Religious teaching is like any other form of teaching.  We were also brainwashed into readying and writing and had out times tables rammed down our throats, which most of us think was good for us.

9.    Myth – Many young people are simply out of control, yobs and troublemakers.

Fact – It is clear that some young people do engage in anti-social behaviour, which can make life unpleasant for those around them.  However, we need to recognise that the majority of young people are well-behaved and responsible.  Negative attitudes towards young people are widespread, with children often banned from loitering in public spaces or in some local shops, only two young allowed to enter at once.  The media play an intrinsic role in shaping attitudes towards young people and their overwhelmingly negative coverage of this group helps contribute to the perceived youth crisis.  MORI research for Young People Now magazine analysed representations of young people in the media and found out of a total of 603 youth related items, 71% of the articles had a negative tone, whilst only 14% were positive and 15% neutral.

10.    Myth – Only married women experience domestic violence

Fact – Anyone can suffer from domestic violence or abuse.  The majority of domestic violence victims are women, but men also suffer from abuse by their partners.  Because of this myth, some men find it more difficult to admin that they are suffering from domestic abuse. Equally, you do not have to be married to suffer from domestic violence, abuse can occur in any relationship.  Nor does marriage make domestic violence of abuse acceptable, violence by one person against another constitutes a criminal act, regardless of marital status or gender.

11.     Myth – Asylum seekers come to the UK for economic reasons.

Fact – Many asylum seekers did not choose to come to the UK.  They come to escape persecution, death and torture.  Many want to return home but can’t because their lives are in danger.

12.    Myth – Asylum seekers and refugees do not add anything to our culture.

Fact – Fish & Chips, the Mini car and Marks and Spencers were all created by refugees.  In 2004 there were more than 1,000 medically qualified refugees were recorded on the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Database.  Recent estimates suggest this to be in the region of over 3,000.  According to the BMA, it only costs £10,000 to prepare a refugee doctor to practise in the UK.  But it costs £250,000 to train a doctor from scratch.

13.    Myth – Asylum seekers all have mobile phones and wear designer clothing.

Fact – Asylum seekers and refugees are not provided with designer clothes, mobile phones, televisions or cars – they mostly utilise second hand charitable donations, if any.  They are allowed to drive and are subject to the same license, taxation and MOT rules as everyone else.

14.    Myth – Refugees and asylum seekers are a drain on our economy.

Fact – Immigrants including refugees add £2.5 billion to the economy.  Many of them are professionals and contribute to the regeneration of areas.  The skills that refugees have brought to the UK is immense e.g. there are over 1,500 refugee teachers and over 3,000 refugee doctors in the UK – an invaluable resource at a time of shortages.

15.    Myth – asylum-seeker children are a drain on our education system.

Fact – According to OFSTED, asylum seeker children contribute very positively to schools across the country.  This in turn enables more successful integration of families into the local communities.

16.    Myth – The arrival of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people in this area is a recent phenomenon.

Fact – Visible ethnic minority communities have lived in the Swansea area since the 1870s and in Neath Port Talbot since the 1890s.  Additionally, many more people from different countries around the world have settled here in the last 200 years.