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Backlog of Asylum Cases Continues to Grow

A report by the Public Accounts Committee into the performance of the UK border and immigration system has revealed the continued existence of a backlog of asylum claims.

The report explains that the Home Office acquired direct responsibility for the significant problems faced by the UK Border Agency (the Agency) when it was abolished in March 2013 and its functions were transferred to the Home Office.

According to the Committee, performance in most of the areas transferred has held steady, but the Home Office has failed to deal with long standing backlogs of asylum claims. Many older asylum claims—some over seven years old—remain undecided, while a new backlog of cases awaiting an initial decision is forming.

The Committee found that this backlog is partly as a result of an attempt by the Agency to downgrade staff that resulted in 120 experienced caseworkers leaving. However, IT issues have also contributed to the problem, as the failure of a number of IT projects compromised the Home Office’s ability to track people through the immigration system.

“The Home Office scrapped the UK Border Agency in March 2013 partly because its performance in dealing with backlog cases was not good enough,” explained The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts.

“However, the Department has also failed to get a grip on the long-standing problem of asylum backlogs, with some 29,000 applications dating back to at least 2007 remaining unresolved. In 11,000 of these cases people have not even received an initial decision on their asylum claim,” she said.

“To make matters worse, the Department is also failing to meet its targets for dealing with newer claims, so it is now creating another backlog for itself,” she added. “The number of claims awaiting an initial decision was up 70% to 16,273 in the first three months of 2014 compared to the same period last year.”

Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v1.0.

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