Home Office needs ‘urgent overhaul’ as asylum system ‘collapses’, say critics

Amid growing pressure on processing centres and hotels accommodating individuals, some migrants that have crossed the Channel have been waiting for a decision since 2018, newly released data shows.

Home Office

The number of people waiting for asylum claims to be processed has exceeded 140,000. Figures show that the vast majority of migrants arriving on small boats have not had their asylum applications considered.

The figures come amid reports that inexperienced and low-paid staff are being hired by the Home Office to handle asylum applications. Insiders told BBC Two’s Newsnight that this was slowing down decisions and leading to long and expensive says in hotels for asylum seekers.

One Home Office employee said they were working “long and gruelling” hours.

“People work desperate hours every day. They’re hiring more decision-makers but some haven’t worked in this area before, so it’s taking them longer to learn and that slows it all down.

“It takes a while to get them up to speed and my worry is that the wrong decisions could be made affecting the lives of vulnerable people,” they said.

Amid growing pressure on processing centres and hotels accommodating individuals, some migrants that have crossed the Channel have been waiting for a decision since 2018, the newly released data shows.

Rising by over 20,000 in the last three months alone, applications have reached their highest point on record. They are currently three times higher than at the same time in 2019.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has accused the government of “mismanagement of the immigration and asylum systems.”

“Asylum decision-making has collapsed – with only 2 percent of people who arrived in small boats over the last year having had their cases decided.

“They have no proper grip or control, they just ramp up the rhetoric instead of putting sensible policies in place,” said Cooper.

The Law Society of England and Wales says the Home Office needs an “urgent overhaul”, amid calls for the department to employ more decision-makers.

“Far too many people are waiting far too long for a decision on their request for sanctuary in the UK.

“There is also still a problem with the quality of Home Office decision-making – 52 percent of decisions were overturned when appealed,” said Richard Atkinson, deputy vice president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

As the Independent reports, the Home Office is legally obliged not to leave asylum seekers destitute while they are waiting for a decision on their asylum status. Subsequently, the backlog is creating chaotic attempts to place individuals in hotels due to a lack of appropriate accommodation.

Of the small proportion of asylum claims considered, 77 percent were granted since the start of the year to September. This marks the highest proportion since 1990.

Officials at the Home Office say the rate will come down as more cases are processed due to the most vulnerable cases, including those involving children and ‘high harm cases’, are being prioritised and are more likely to be successful in their applications.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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