The UK have had a proud history of providing asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution. However, I appreciate that there are serious concerns about the effectiveness of our current asylum system.
The recent report by Refugee Action highlighted a number of problems around access to asylum support which must be taken seriously. For example, of the cases that Refugee Action looked at, 92% of applications for emergency support that were initially refused were subsequently granted when challenged. The Government must ensure robust procedures are in place to investigate and resolve problems such as this and should urgently implement a streamlined system that assesses claims fairly, in a timely way, and treats asylum seekers humanely.
It is vital that asylum applications are dealt with quickly, fairly and compassionately so that genuine refugees are not left waiting for prolonged periods of time for a decision. However, the most recent figures from the Home Office show that over 8,600 people had been waiting over 6 months for an initial decision on their asylum application at the end of March this year. Indeed, the Home Affairs Committee warned earlier this year that the asylum system is under strain.
I also have concerns over the Government’s policy for the allocation of accommodation for asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are overwhelmingly accommodated in poorer areas of the country and I believe the Government is letting down those seeking asylum and the communities where they are allocated. This is why the manifesto I stood on at the recent General Election was committed to reviewing these arrangements.
I hope the Government will carefully consider the points raised by Refugee Action and other organisations working in this area, and ensure that the processes in place result in appropriate decisions on both support and asylum claims as quickly as possible.
I have signed EDM 190 on 17th July 2017, which ‘notes with deep concern the findings of the recent research report by Refugee Action, Slipping Through The Cracks, that a failure by the Home Office to follow its own guidance for supporting those seeking asylum in the UK is resulting in vulnerable people being wrongly denied assistance or suffering long delays to get the support they are entitled to, and that this is making vulnerable people homeless and leaving them unable to feed their families; further notes that the Refugee Action report follows highly critical reports on the asylum support system by the Home Affairs Committee in January 2017, and the Public Accounts Committee in April 2014; considers it vital that Home Office policy and practice adequately supports all asylum seekers while taking account of the particular needs of the most vulnerable, including victims of torture and trafficking; and calls on the Government urgently to commit to applying existing policy and guidance in all cases, including making decisions on support as quickly as possible, to put into practice a transparent approach to decision-making on asylum support, and to take urgent action to improve the standards and monitoring of asylum accommodation.’