Response to the Comprehensive Spending Review announced by the Chancellor Gordon Brown

15 Jul 2002

Nick Hardwick, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

"Our concern is not about how much money is made available for the asylum system but how wisely the money is spent.

"Rather than spending huge sums of money on accommodation centres and detention centres we would primarily like the Home Office to invest resources in the decision-making process, so that asylum seekers' cases are heard quickly and fairly enabling them to re-build their lives and contribute to our economy and society.

"Asylum seekers should be allowed to work while awaiting a decision on their case which will save money and fill gaps in the labour market.

"We think the money that is available would be better spent on existing services in dispersal areas that will benefit both asylum seeker and local resident.

"We also need more legal advisers, more immigration officers including better training for them and up-to-date, comprehensive and well-sourced information on countries of origin.

"And, the government should establish an independent documentation centre to compile this information to be used by both asylum seekers and the Home Office. This would return credibility to the system and give asylum seekers faith that they are receiving a fair hearing."