An influential group of MPs has criticised the Government for a mounting backlog of asylum cases, blaming in part the decision to downgrade asylum decision makers at the Home Office.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed the Home Office for failing to resolve 29,000 asylum applications dating back to at least 2007, of which 11,000 have not even received an initial decision on their claim.
The Committee also found that the department was also struggling with fresh asylum claims, which is creating a new backlog of cases awaiting an initial decision.
The number of claims awaiting an initial decision increased 70% to 16,273 in the first quarter of 2014, compared to same period last year.
Part of the problem is rooted in the Home Office’s decision to demote asylum case workers from Higher Executive Officer to Executive Officer which led to 120 case workers leaving and a staff shortage.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Lisa Doyle said: “It’s extremely concerning that so many people are still waiting for a decision on their asylum claim, years after first applying. Behind these statistics are individuals, many of whom will have suffered extreme trauma, forced to live day to day in uncertainty while they await the outcome of what could be a life or death decision.
“While people are in the asylum system they are living in limbo; they are banned from working, can’t claim mainstream benefits and are simply unable to begin recovering from their experiences and rebuilding their lives.
“It’s very important that the Home Office makes decision in a timely manner, but it’s even more important that it gets its decisions right first time. It’s vital that people who come here fleeing persecution have access to a fair and effective asylum process.”