The number of pending asylum cases that have been waiting for over six months for a decision has nearly doubled since February 2012, according to figures from the government’s monthly asylum application statistics, released yesterday.
The figures show that the number of cases pending an initial decision after six months had risen to 6,342 in February 2013, compared to 3,380 in February 2012. This represents an increase of 87 percent.
The figure from this February is also a four percent increase on the number of asylum cases pending an initial decision after six months in June 2010, one month after the Coalition government came to power, when the number stood at 6,070.
The number of asylum cases pending decision after less than six months has faced an even bigger rise, increasing by 93 percent between June 2010 and February 2013, to 6,511 cases from 3,371 cases.
This is an increase of 27 percent from February 2012, when the figure stood at 5,124 cases.
The graphs linked to below represent the increased numbers of:
- Cases pending an initial decision after six months (orange),
- Cases pending an initial decision before or around six months (blue),
- And the total number of cases awaiting decision (green).
Dr Russell Hargrave, of the charity Asylum Aid, said:
“The coalition promised a fairer, more efficient asylum system, with a commitment to getting decisions right first time. Early figures suggested they were making progress. But everything now points to longer delays and backlogs growing yet again. No one who flees halfway across the world to ask for help should be stuck hearing nothing for months, but that’s clearly what’s happening.
“..Tackling these delays is only right and decent for refugees, but it is also a very public test of the government’s competence”.
He highlighted two possible causes for the growing number of asylum cases waiting for long periods of time, without a clear decision:
” The UK Border Agency faced significant cuts to its personnel and to its resources, so suddenly you’ve got the same number of cases more or less being made each month, but the number of people trained to make them and the resources available to them has fallen actually.
“In the middle of that, around April and May 2012, (which is when the graphs bottom out), there’s been an attempt to bring in a whole new system for dealing with asylum claims, and the transition seems to cause delays and confusion amongst some officials that we’ve dealt with.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The system we inherited was hopelessly chaotic. We are bringing it all back under control.
“We are currently focusing on concluding the oldest outstanding asylum claims and this, coupled with an increase in the number of claims we are receiving, has meant that it is taking longer than we would hope to process some applications.
“We are working hard to address this and reduce the time it takes for applications to be processed.”