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Asylum cases backlog rises by 50 per cent to hit record high

Home Office statistics show that there were 133,607 asylum cases (PA Archive)
Home Office statistics show that there were 133,607 asylum cases (PA Archive)

The asylum case backlog has risen by 50 per cent in a year to a record high with 172,758 people still waiting for a decision on their claim for refugee status, official figures revealed on Thursday.

The Home Office statistics show that there were 133,607 asylum cases, some involving more than one person, awaiting an initial decision at the end of March. That compares with a total of 89,344 outstanding applications a year earlier, relating to 109,735 people.

The data, which comes despite government pledges to reduce the backlog, is accompanied by an admission that “the number of cases awaiting an initial decision has increased over the last 10 years” and grown “more rapidly since 2018” when there only 22,100 cases awaiting an initial decision.

Thursday’s figures also show that 54,653 of the cases in the backlog relate to asylum claims made after 28 June last year and that overall claims for asylum are at 75,492 — the highest level since 2002 when conflict or political unrest in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Zimbabwe pushed the total even higher.

The total number of cases awaiting a decision topped the previous peak of 125,000, recorded in 1999.

Thursday’s figures show that the top ten nationalities claiming asylum in the year to the end of March were Albania, Afghanistan, Iran, India, Iraq, Bangladesh, Syria, Sudan, Eritrea and Pakistan.

The approval rate was 99 per cent for applicants from Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea, 83 per cent for those from Sudan, and five per cent for Indians.

For asylum seekers from Albania, it was 33 per cent but many were older cases, reflecting a different profile of applicant from the large number of young Albanian men who have arrived to claim asylum in the past year.