Responding to the quarterly immigration statistics published by the Home Office today, Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said:
“The record high asylum backlog is having a devastating impact on the people we work with, whose lives are put on hold indefinitely while they anxiously wait to hear whether they will be allowed to stay in the UK. Taking further urgent action to reduce the backlog would not only improve people’s lives, but it would also make financial sense. Granting asylum to those from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Syria and Sudan would save the Government millions of pounds a day, as it would end hotel use by 77 per cent*.
“We are very concerned by the unprecedented number of asylum claims being withdrawn this year: over the first six months of 2023, 47 per cent of Home Office “decisions” were actually withdrawals.
“It is vital that each claim is given proper consideration. The Home Office certainly shouldn’t rely on asylum claims being withdrawn as a way of showing its backlog figures are going down. We must see an analysis of the reasons for this rapid increase in withdrawals and action to ensure that claims are only withdrawn in very specific circumstances.
“We need a more humane and orderly approach to asylum starting with an ambitious, workable, person-centred approach to reducing the backlog without relying on claims being withdrawn with no explanation as to why. There needs to be a target to complete all applications from high grant rate countries by the end of September, and ensure that the streamlined process is accessible, transparent and non-punitive.”
* At the end of June, there were 39,027 people from those 5 countries in some kind of Home Office accommodation. That’s 77% of the 50,546 people in hotels.
Commenting on the numbers granted asylum to date on safe routes, Enver Solomon added:
“Just over seven out of ten people are being granted asylum at initial decision which shows that the majority of people arriving in the UK are refugees in need of safety, fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries.
“They have no choice but to take dangerous journeys as the Government’s own figures show that its safe resettlement schemes aren’t working, with only 904 people resettled across all schemes – down 44% since last year. What’s more, with only 107 Afghans resettled through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme since it was launched in January 2022, we have failed to live up to our promises to the brave Afghans who stood resolutely with us against the Taliban.
“The government must act to set up functioning resettlement schemes and family reunion mechanisms so people don’t have to risk their lives facing the possibility of death in the Channel.”