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UK: 'Reckless' new plan on immigration sees major decline in processing asylum claims

Houses of Parliament in London
Houses of Parliament in London © 2021 SOPA Images

Quarterly immigration statistics published by Home Office today

Long outstanding asylum claims 50% higher than a year ago

‘The Home Office’s new asylum rules are reckless and impractical’ - Steve Valdez-Symonds

New statistics published today by the Home Office show that immigration rules introduced by the Home Secretary last December have led to more than 1,500 people who have sought asylum in the UK being warned the Home Office is looking to send them to other countries. Although there are no agreements in place for those countries to accept responsibility for their asylum claims. To date, none of these people have been removed from the UK.

Reacting to the new quarterly statistics - which provide official information on the UK’s immigration system, including people coming to the UK, applying for asylum, and being detained or removed - Amnesty International said the new rules were “reckless and impractical”.

The new rules introduced at the start of the year are integral to the Government’s “plan”, announced in March, which seeks to largely dismantle the UK’s existing asylum system, including by refusing to consider many claims on the basis that people will be sent instead to other countries to have their claims dealt with by those countries. However, as many experts and critics have predicted, it is unlikely that other countries will be willing to receive from the UK people seeking asylum here.

Today’s data shows that so far nobody refused admission to the UK’s asylum system under the new rules has been accepted by a third country. Ultimately, if someone is not accepted by another country, the UK will have to consider the person’s asylum claim. As experts have warned, these new rules risk doing no more than adding to Home Office delays and backlogs.

Key findings from the quarterly statistics, which show a significant decline in the UK providing protection to people seeking asylum, are as follows: 

  • The UK granted leave to remain for 8,640 people (including dependants) in the year ending March 2021
  • This figure is around half (42%) of the number in the year ending March 2020, and the lowest level since 2012
  • In the year ending March 2021, there were 12,968 initial decisions made on asylum applications, and just under half (48%) of these were grants of asylum and humanitarian protection
  • Twelve months ago, the figure of asylum claims awaiting an initial decision after more than 6 months was 31,516. It has now reached 50,084, indicating major delays within the system

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Refugee and Migrant Rights Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

“The Home Office’s new asylum rules are reckless and impractical - and are not in keeping with the spirit and purpose of international refugee law.

“As predicted, today’s data shows that so far nobody refused admission to the UK’s asylum system under the new rules has been accepted by any other country.

“With these rules, the Home Secretary has merely introduced more uncertainty and delay which causes immense anxiety to people seeking asylum while adding to the mountain of existing backlogs.

“We don’t need these oppressive new laws and rules - we need the Home Secretary to focus on making the UK asylum system more accessible, reducing not adding to delays and improving the quality of decision-making so women, men and child refugees receive the protection of this country to which they are entitled.”

 

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