UK not on track to clear backlog of legacy asylum cases: Home Affairs Committee

Refugee and Migrant Justice calls for fairer system for processing asylum pleas

9th April 2010: Home Affairs Committee has fiercely criticized the UK Border Agency’s attempts to resolve the backlog of more than 400,000 old asylum cases, some dating back up to 10 years.

In its last report before the general election, the committee has asserted the government’s target to clear the historic caseload of asylum applications will not be met. It is, rather, being set back by a further backlog of cases.

The assertion comes soon after UK Border Agency announced that its staff was being slashed by as much as 30 per cent, as it “clears the backlog of cases”. (See:

The committee said despite the assurances given by the government in their responses to the original reports, the subsequent evidence they have received reinforces and, in some areas, increases the concerns they felt at the end of last year.

None of these issues would be resolved within the next few months, and all would have a serious impact on thousands of people."

The report follows warning by an independent watchdog that the Home Office’s target of dealing with 90 per cent of the asylum applications within six months was "unachievable". (See:

According to chief inspector of the UK Border Agency John Vine, the UKBA would have to more increase the work rate by more than double to clear around 200,000 outstanding asylum cases by July 2011.

Reacting to the developments, Refugee and Migrant Justice has called for a fairer and more efficient system for processing asylum applications in the light of the report.

Caroline Slocock, chief executive of Refugee and Migrant Justice said: “We welcome this report and are calling for fairer and more efficient decision making by the Home Office to deal with the cause of the backlog, not just the symptoms.

“With almost one in three asylum applications originally turned down by the UKBA now winning at an independent tribunal on appeal, it is clear that not enough right decisions are being made first time by the Home Office.

“UKBA staff is under tremendous pressure to rush cases through too quickly, leading to the wrong decisions and delays downstream, creating a new backlog of tens of thousands of cases.

 “The Home Office’s Early Legal Advice Pilot in Solihull has clearly demonstrated that spending more time at the outset of applications resulted in more decisions being made correctly first time, saving money and resolving more cases within six months.”


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