The Home Office’s failure to ‘get a grip’ on a backlog of asylum claims could lead to further litigation, immigration lawyers said today in the wake of a damning report on the system.
A House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report published today reveals that some 29,000 asylum applications dating back to at least 2007 remain unresolved.
In 11,000 of these cases, applicants have not even received an initial decision on their claim, something the Home Office has now committed to provide by the end of the year.
The Home Office is also missing its targets on newer asylum claims for how long a caseworker should take to process an application. As a result, the number of claims awaiting an initial decision increased by 70% to 16,273 in the first three months of 2014 compared with the same period last year.
Christopher Randall, senior associate in the immigration department at City firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, said it was ‘entirely unfair’ for any asylum seeker to have their original claims unresolved and outstanding for so long. He said: ‘The delays spawn satellite litigation about conditions, delays and changes of circumstances, which is also highly inefficient and could have been avoided by prompt decisions.’
The UK Border Agency was abolished in March 2013 and its functions transferred to the Home Office.
Randall said: ‘It is deeply worrying that [the] problems may be replicated in a new backlog of new cases. UK visas and immigration needs to be properly resourced to take timely, properly argued, defensible decisions, for the benefit of all involved in the system.’