Efficient system sought, as legal aid for asylum seekers cost £ 28 million last year

Green calls for a quick, efficient system

5th January 2010: Shadow immigration minister Damian Green called for a “quick, efficient system”, as statistics by the Ministry of Justice revealed legal aid for asylum seekers cost more than £ 28 million last year.

In 46,628 cases asylum seekers got legal aid last year for basic advice. Each case costs an average £ 610. 

The amount, however, is much less than what the UK earns from visas issued to the migrants looking for entry into the UK.

The UK Border Agency, only recently, had made it clear migrant fees from visas that are issued contribute £300 million to the UK.

The contribution of the asylum seekers too is not unknown. Only recently, Naim Dangoor made clear his intention of funding one of the biggest scholarship schemes to have been launched for UK varsity students.

Property developer Dangoor, who left Iraq for the UK in the 1960s, had asserted £3m donation was his way of expressing gratitude. According to the available information, Dangoor is to contribute towards bursaries for 4,000 students in subjects including science and maths.

Reports, meanwhile, indicates a bill of more than £550,000 a week was paid for "initial advice" in 46,000 cases. Cases going on to a full tribunal cost an average of £1,670, while those that go to judicial review cost £2,500.

Reacting to the statistics, the Conservatives said the figures exposed the true cost of an asylum system crippled by huge backlogs. Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said there were hundreds of thousands of asylum cases that have been hanging around for years. This involved a huge cost to the taxpayer, as well as being unfair to those involved.

A quick, efficient system would be a real benefit, but ministers have failed to deliver this despite 12 years of trying.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said legal Aid was not automatically available to immigrants and asylum seekers.

Each application was considered on an individual basis subject to their means and the merits of their case. The applicant must show they have reasonable grounds for taking part in legal proceedings and that it was reasonable for legal aid to be granted.

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