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UK asylum backlog reaches new record high

24 Aug 2023 3 minute read
Asylum seekers arriving at Dover (Photo: Gareth Fuller)

The UK’s asylum backlog has hit a new record high, with 80% of people waiting longer than six months for an initial decision.

Home Office figures show a total of 175,457 people were waiting for an initial decision on an asylum application in the UK at the end of June 2023, up 44% from 122,213 at the end of June 2022 – the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

The number of asylum seekers waiting more than six months for an initial decision stood at 139,961 at the end of June, up 57% year on year from 89,231 and another record high.

However, the number of cases awaiting a decision has risen by less than 1% in the three months to the end of June, suggesting the rise is slowing down.

“This is in part due to an increase in the number of initial decisions made, and an increase in the number of asylum decision-makers employed,” the department added.

There were 23,702 initial decisions made on asylum applications in the UK in the year to June 2023, up 61% on 14,730 in the year to June 2022.

It is also above the 20,766 decisions made in the pre-pandemic calendar year of 2019.

Just over seven in 10 (71%) of initial decisions on asylum applications in the year to June 2023 were grants of refugee status, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave.

This is “substantially higher” than in pre-pandemic years, when around a third of initial decisions were grants, the Home Office said.

The grant rate has been above 70% since 2021.

Before then, the previous high was in 1990, when it stood at 82%, although the volume of applications was much lower at that time.

Leave to remain

Refugee Action called for the Government to give asylum seekers leave to remain in the UK if they end up waiting more than a year for a decision on a claim.

Rachel Goodall, the charity’s head of asylum services, said: “The huge backlog in asylum decision-making is a product of the Government’s hostile environment and it is causing immense suffering to refugees who just want to get on with their lives.

“It has forced thousands of people into inappropriate housing such as former hotels, prison ships and MoD sites from which only the private firms trousering millions in taxpayer-funded profits benefit.

“Ministers must stop their cruel obsession with deterrence and focus on workable and rights-based solutions.

“This includes giving leave to remain to anyone who has waited more than 12 months for a decision on their claim, scrapping its inadmissibility policy and allowing people to work while they wait.”


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G Horton-Jones.
G Horton-Jones.
7 months ago

This is England’s problem and has absolutely nothing to do with the devolved nation’s

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
7 months ago

What do you expect? Cuts in the immigration service = a higher backlog of people waiting to be processed. It’s how the Tories want it, it sows division as they, ironically, exploit their own incompetence in order to try and get more votes in the next GE. There are real people involved, not just numbers, but do they care? More chance of hell freezing over.

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