Today the Government has issued its quarterly immigration statistics up to the end of December 2018.
Today’s statistics show that as asylum claims for main applicants and dependants have risen by 9% on the previous year, this does not account for the substantial and growing backlog of cases.
Although the overall number of claims the UK received is still below figures for 2015-16, the small increase in claims from last year shows that there remains an urgent need for international protection. In fact, the UK continues to receive only 6% of all asylum applications that are made in the EU, a figure that has remained stable since the last quarter.
A record 27, 256 cases are still pending an initial decision, during which time people are waiting anxiously in limbo, unable to plan for their futures and the vast majority living in poverty. That figure includes 12, 213 applications that have been waiting for longer than six months for an initial decision, also a record high.
The progress on refugee resettlement is much more encouraging, the latest figures showing that 14, 945 people have been resettled from the Syrian conflict to date, with government on track to meet its target of resettling 20,000 affected refugees by 2020.
However, as that scheme moves towards its conclusion, local authorities, charities, and practitioners urgently need to know about government plans for the future of refugee resettlement, so that services can plan and skills and capacity are not lost.
Judith Dennis, Policy Manager at Refugee Council, said:
“The latest figures on refugee resettlement show that with resources and political will, the government can successfully support large numbers of people to rebuild their lives after becoming refugees, and the UK should be rightly proud of that fact.
The same focus and determination is needed to ensure that people applying through the asylum process are not left in limbo, and are able to receive accurate and timely decisions on their claims.
It is simply a waste of resources, opportunities and lives to have a growing asylum backlog, and the Home Office must recognise it can do more to turn that around.”