Today the Home Office published the latest statistics on asylum and protection for year ending September 2020. This includes how many people claimed asylum in the UK, how many have waited more than six months for a decision, how many people were resettled or arrived via a family reunion visa, and the different outcomes of asylum decisions.
For the year ending September 2020, asylum applications fell by 8%, with the top five countries of origin for people seeking asylum being Iran, Albania, Iraq, Eritrea and Sudan.
The backlog of people awaiting an initial decision on their asylum case reached a record high of 60,548, with 76% waiting more than six months for a decision. Whilst Covid-19 has impacted on the decision making process, there was already a substantial backlog prior to the pandemic.
The latest figures show that the number of people in receipt of Section 98 support (initial accommodation) almost doubled from 5,444 people at the end of June 2020, to 10,315 at the end of September 2020 (an 89% increase).
49% of initial decisions on asylum applications resulted in a grant of asylum, humanitarian protection or another form of leave. This is about the same as last year, but slightly down on the 53% grant rate we saw in the year ending June 2020.
The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year ending September 2020 was 44%. The appeal success rate has been steadily increasing over the last decade (up from 29% in 2010) and has been above 40% for the last two years.
The latest figures also confirm that no refugees have been resettled since March 2020, when the resettlement programmes were paused.
1,624 family reunion visas were granted in July-September 2020, up from 131 in April-June 2020 (where the numbers dropped significantly due to Covid-19) and almost back up to the figures we were seeing prior to the pandemic.
Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said:
“Despite extensive media coverage suggesting the contrary, 2020 has not seen a surge in asylum claims. In the year to September 2020, asylum claims fell by 8%, and no refugees were resettled.
Clearly, the pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the asylum system, with pre-existing systemic problems, such as the asylum case backlog, worsening and causing tens of thousands of people to be stuck in the asylum system for months on end, unable to plan for the future and struggling to survive on £5.66 per day. The government urgently needs to address the growing backlog of cases, and grant people waiting more than six months the right to work.
We’re pleased to see the number of family reunion visas return to more normal levels, after a significant drop in the second quarter of 2020, but we remain deeply troubled by the lack of an announcement on the UK Resettlement Scheme, which had been due to start in April 2020. The government must urgently confirm a start date for the scheme, and set out plans to ensure the UK’s resettlement programme is able to recover back to pre-Covid levels.”