Home Office under fire for multiple failings

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A new report by the Public Accounts Committee condemns the Home Office for multiple failings and delays in the processing of asylum claims.

The report identifies a range of failings within the Home Office’s new UK Immigration and Visas Department since its creation just eighteen months ago, including the use of outdated data and information, poor quality IT resources and the loss of 120 experienced caseworkers.

The Committee’s report found that the number of people who had not received an initial decision on their claim for asylum increased by 70% in the first quarter of 2014 in comparison with the first quarter of 2013.

This catalogue of problems means that around 29,000 people seeking sanctuary in the UK are waiting for a decision on their asylum case, some of whom have been waiting for more than five years. Of these 29,000 people, 11,000 have yet to even receive an initial decision on their asylum case.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Absurdly long waiting periods for life-or-death asylum decisions place increased stress on people who may already be particularly vulnerable after fleeing their homes in fear of their lives.

"We know that decision-making within the Home Office needs to improve and we agree with the Committee’s recommendations for increased funding and resources to be allocated to the UK Immigration and Visas Department in a bid to boost the accuracy and timeliness of decision making. 

Improved decision-making earlier in the asylum process is an essential, non-negotiable element of any fair and just asylum system.”