`Expedite processing of visa pleas to cut costs’

`Slow pace means spending money on people not entitled to stay’

28th January 2010:
With Whitehall figures revealing that over £230million were being spent annually on housing asylum seekers, political parties and other activists have again called for expediting the process of dealing with the applications to reduce costs.

As of now, money is used on over 25,000 council houses for the applicants to stay in, while their pleas are being processed.

The figures, disclosed by the Home Office in response to a Commons written question from the Tories, reveal the total cost has nearly doubled from £132million three years ago.

After getting the figures, Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said almost two million British households were languishing on the social housing waiting list. But the ministers were paying huge sums behind the scenes to house asylum-seekers.

Matthew Elliott of campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the sluggish pace meant the taxpayers were eventually paying for many people whose applications were invalid.

If the system was expedited for dealing faster with the applications, they could reduce this cost a great deal.

Head of immigration at the UK Border Agency Matthew Coats said overall asylum support costs have halved since 2003-04. Some asylum seekers’ accommodation costs were transferred to those 18 suppliers after 2006, which may give a false impression of increasing costs. They have secured robust and flexible contracts with commercial suppliers to provide value-for-money accommodation to eligible asylum seekers.

He added there has been a significant reduction in asylum application figures, down 70 per cent between 2002 and 2008. They were concluding most new asylum cases within six months.

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