Anger as officials reveal asylum processing times for ALL small boat migrants arriving in Britain is now at least a year as the number of claims reaches a new record high
- The delays signal a ‘collapse’ of decision-making, MPs claimed last night
All small-boat migrants will be in the UK for at least a year while waiting for asylum claims to be processed, officials say.
The delays signal a ‘collapse’ of decision-making and mean people arriving on small boats end up staying in taxpayer-funded hotels ‘for years’, MPs claimed last night.
It comes as last month the backlog of asylum claims reached a new record high of 175,457.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) now runs on the assumption that all asylum seeker claims will take ‘more than 12 months’ to process.
One former Cabinet minister said the amount of time officials are taking to decide on claims is ‘astonishing’.
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat travelling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent, on August 29, 2023
The delays signal a ‘collapse’ of decision-making and mean people arriving on small boats will end up staying in taxpayer-funded hotels ‘for years’, MPs claimed. Pictured: migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat traveling from the coast of France
The Tory MP also accused Rishi Sunak of ‘cooking the books’ by focusing on clearing the ‘legacy’ backlog of cases – while waiting times for all claims rise.
The ONS, which is based in the same government building as the Home Office in London, started including asylum seekers in its overall migration data for the first time this year.
The decision was made on the basis that ‘under the current system, they might all be expected to remain more than 12 months’, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Red Wall Tory MP Brendan-Clarke Smith said: ‘Twelve months to decide a claim is far too long and these figures perfectly illustrate why we need to not only process these claims faster, but also make sure when they are rejected that we are able to remove people from the UK with immediate effect.’
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘It is a damning indictment of the Home Secretary’s unworkable plans that the ONS now assume everyone arriving on small boats will stay in the UK over a year when cases used to be decided much faster than that.’
One former Cabinet minister also accused Rishi Sunak of ‘cooking the books’ by focusing on clearing the ‘legacy’ backlog of cases – while waiting times for all claims rise (File Photo)
She added that the ‘collapse in asylum decision-making and failure to return those who are not refugees means thousands of people are now in hotels for years, with taxpayers footing the eye-watering bill.’
The government is spending £6million taxpayer money a day putting illegal migrants up in hotels.
Ministers are trying to speed up claim processing times by cutting the training period for decision-makers from 9 weeks to a fortnight, immigration minister Robert Jenrick revealed in a written answer to MPs last week.
Rishi Sunak promised to ‘abolish the backlog of initial asylum decisions’ by the end of 2023. Downing Street later clarified he was referring to ‘legacy’ backlog, before June 2022.
Mr Jenrick said the government is ‘on track’ to clear the legacy backlog of cases and that the number of decision makers has been increased from 1,280 in May to 2,500. However, a report by the influential National Audit Office in June said Mr Sunak is not expected to meet his pledge.
The Home Office said: ‘We continue to have robust safeguards and checks in place to make sure asylum claims are properly considered.’
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