On Saturday 13 July, the Home Affairs Select Committee’s published a report on ‘The work of the UK Border Agency (October – December 2012)’
In March the Home Secretary disbanded the UK Border Agency saying that it had a ‘closed, secretive and defensive culture’. In this report, the Committee questions the extent to which the Home Office has addressed this. The report also found that 33,500 people who initially applied for asylum before March 2007 were still waiting for their cases to be concluded. It also found that the number of asylum seekers waiting for more than six months for an initial decision on their claim had risen.
Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
We share the Home Affairs Select Committee’s concern that the ‘closed, secretive and defensive culture’ identified in the UK Border Agency cannot be addressed within the Home Office without adequate resources being made available to make the changes in personnel and structures necessary. We hoped that the abolition of UKBA would root out this problem, but we fear that this opportunity is in danger of being missed.
The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report also shows that little progress is being made to resolve the cases in the asylum backlog, resulting in continued suffering for those who have patiently waited for years for a decision. There is a human cost to this administrative chaos. Many of these people will have fled conflict, violence or persecution and have been forced to live in uncertainty and poverty for years when they could be rebuilding their lives. The Home Office should ensure that they are given a right and fair decision as a matter of urgency.
The report also shows an increase in the number of people waiting for more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim. It is imperative that the Home Office gets decisions on asylum claims right first time as well as in a timely manner to ensure that further backlogs are not created.”