More asylum seekers are facing long waits for decisions, with majority hosted

A new analysis from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford highlights key changes to asylum statistics.

  • The number of asylum seekers in the UK facing long waits for an initial decision has more than trebled since 2014.
  • 55% of total claims in recent years have been successful, nearly a third of which were on appeal.
  • Scotland and the North of England host the majority. Glasgow homes 4,000, while many areas in the south east take none.

The analysis was published in the new briefing ‘Migration to the UK: Asylum and resettled refugees‘. It shows a sharp decrease in the number of claims decided within 6 months, from a recent peak of 80% in the second quarter of 2014, to just 25% in the last quarter of 2018. The change precedes a Home Office decision earlier this year to drop its six-month target to make an initial decision on most claims.

Despite the waits, more than half of asylum claims resulted in success. Appeals proved to be significant in the process, with 40% of those who appealed managing to get their initial decision overturned. These appeals make up 17% of the 55% of successful applicants.

Dr Peter Walsh, a researcher at the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, and author of the briefing said: ‘A few years ago, a solid majority of asylum seekers got an initial decision within 6 months, but now it’s only one in four. This, of course, is just the first stage of the asylum process. After you factor in appeals, the whole process can take years for many applicants.

‘There is no single explanation for the falling share of decisions taken in 6 months. Factors that could have played a role include changes to policy and management, the complexity of the cases the Home Office receives, and, of course, budget constraints.’

The Home Office has said that it dropped the 6-month processing target to prioritise cases involving vulnerable applicants and those where an initial decision needed to be reconsidered.

The spread of asylum seekers hosted around the country was also found to be quite uneven. The briefing revealed that 20 local authorities hosted as many asylum seekers as the remaining 362 combined. Most of these authorities were in Scotland and the North of England.

Dr Walsh added: ‘The data suggest that more than 150 local authorities in the UK didn’t house a single asylum seeker on Section 95 support in the year to June 2019, while Glasgow alone took more than 4,000. Many of these authorities will have supported resettled refugees, but nevertheless, the distribution of asylum seekers around the UK is pretty unequal.’

/University Release. View in full here.