Conservatives criticise Labour for paying some asylum seekers £1,600 a month for “doing nothing”

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“Conservatives are stopping the boats, Labour are paying for them!”

Conservatives have criticised Welsh Labour for permitting some asylum seekers to participate in Wales’ basic income pilot program which will pay them close to £20,000 a year.

Valued at £20 million, the initiative provides £1,600 monthly to 18-year-olds leaving care, which includes unaccompanied asylum seekers.

Rishi Sunak, during Prime Minister’s Questions, criticised Labour’s alleged payment of £1,600 to “illegal migrants,” saying it’s in direct contrast to the government’s efforts to deter illegal immigration.

Welsh Conservatives have also called the “£1,600 a month for illegal migrants is a disgraceful misuse of taxpayers’ money.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Rishi Sunak said:

“I know the Labour leader has said that the Welsh Labour government is his blueprint, and unbelievably as my honourable member said, Labour in Wales are trying to pay illegal migrants £1,600. 

“We’re stopping the boats, Labour are paying for them”.

Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives added:

“Illegal migrants should not be getting a monthly payment in Wales, and this policy from Labour is nonsensical.

“The universal basic income scheme is a colossal waste of tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money and the eligibility of illegal migrants will act as an unacceptable pull factor to the benefit of evil people smugglers.

“Vaughan Gething should swallow his pride, admit this policy was a failure, and focus on the Welsh people’s priorities.”

“The eligibility of illegal migrants will act as an unacceptable pull factor to the benefit of evil people smugglers” – Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives.

Officials have said the scheme is the highest amount offered on a basic income scheme anywhere in the world.

However, the Welsh Labour government has defended its intention to assist young asylum seekers in “rebuilding their lives.”

Welsh Labour say the basic income scheme, launched last year, aims to assess how such payments can aid care leavers in transitioning to independence. Unaccompanied asylum seeker children (UASC) turning 18 have been eligible to apply for the scheme from its inception, receiving £1,280 monthly after tax. The program offers unconditional monthly payments for two years to individuals who have been in care for at least 13 weeks.

As of March 8, there were 294 recipients of the basic income pilot, with an estimated total of around 500 participants expected by the scheme’s closure to new applicants in June. Of these, 152 identified as Welsh, 57 as British, and 37 as English. The remaining 35 recipients reported various other nationalities, while 13 did not provide a response.

The news that migrants are being paid has also been met with distain on Welsh streets.

Sam Jones, a mother of 3 from Cardiff told the Conservative Post: “I work two cleaning shifts and help out at my friend’s shop on Saturdays just to make ends meet. I would love to get £1600 for doing nothing! I will never vote Labour again. They have priorities all wrong. The Welsh people should come first. Why are they giving our tax money to pay for people to do nothing?”

Simon Hall, a farm hand from Denbigh added: “I’m 18 and this is my first proper job. I’m working hard to try and save up so I can get a place of my own… my only day off is on Sunday at the moment and it’s hard work. I’m flat-out. How can these people get more than me for not even working? And they aren’t even from here. I’m all for helping people in need but this is taking p%@*!”

The controversial scheme has caused more controversy this week when the Welsh Labour government requested relaxed legal aid rules for pilot participants, a proposal rejected by Conservative ministers.

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies accused Labour ministers of seeking to exempt asylum seekers from legal fees.

The Conservative Welsh Secretary has also accused Labour politicians of not knowing what their colleagues in the Welsh Government were up to.

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