The work of the UK Border Agency (December 2011-March 2012) - Home Affairs Committee Contents


4  New asylum cases

Key figures
  • 59% of applications received an initial decision within 30 days in 2010/11
  • 63% of claims were concluded within one year in 2011/12
  • 37% of claims remained outstanding after three years in 2010/11

Asylum applications

37. A summary of applications and initial decisions for main applicants and dependents is shown in the table below:
Q2 2011
Q3 2011
Q4 2011
Q1 2012
Applications
6,101
6,492
6,788
6,192
Initial decisions
5,445
5,609
5,380
5,996
Grants
1,580
1,925
1,842
2,019
Refusals
3,865
3,684
3,538
3,977
Pending initial decision
6,802
7,381
8,429
8,399
<6 months
3,829
4,481
5,499
4,790
>6 months
2,973
2,900
2,980
3,609

Table 2: asylum applications and initial decisions Q2 2011-Q1 2012 (main applicants and dependents)[25]

  • The number of asylum applications made in each quarter over the previous year has remained fairly constant, fluctuating between 6,101 and 6,788.
  • In each quarter the number of refusals was approximately double to the number of grants made to asylum seekers.[26]
  • The majority of cases are given an initial decision within 6 months but a substantial number of cases took longer throughout the last four quarters.

Assessing the Agency's performance: initial decisions

38. We are not able to regularly assess the proportion of cases that receive an initial decision within acceptable timeframes, as the Agency's quarterly figures do not make it possible to calculate:

  • the proportion of asylum applications given an initial decision in 30 days;
  • the proportion of applications still pending an initial decision at six months; or
  • the proportion of applications pending an initial decision for longer than six months.

39. The Agency only publishes annual figures for the proportion of cases receiving an initial decision within a given period as part of their performance monitoring statistics. The latest performance statistics available for the year 2010 /11 show that 59% of adult cases received an initial decision within 30 days. This is a lower number than we would have expected, especially given the relatively constant rate of asylum applications. The Agency does not publish statistics to show the proportion of applications made in each quarter that receive an initial decision before or after 6 months.[27]

40. The Agency has had a historic problem with a large backlog of asylum cases awaiting initial decision. This backlog peaked in January 2000 at 120,400 cases awaiting an initial decision. Given this track record we are concerned that the Agency seems unprepared to allow us to regularly keep track of how quickly it gives initial decisions on asylum cases.[28] In the evidence he gave to us Mr Whiteman restated his commitment to transparency and openness but this will prove to be a hollow commitment unless the Agency is willing to provide information that will allow its performance to be monitored regularly.[29] Parliament must be in a position to know at once if a new backlog starts to build up at the initial decision stage.

Assessing the Agency's performance: conclusions

41. The Agency does however publish quarterly statistics to show the percentage of cases concluded within the quarter.
Q1 2011/12
Q2 2011/12
Q3 2011/12
Q4 2011/12
Total
Total cohort
4,438
4,562
4,692
4,922
18,614
Unsubstantiated claims
229
169
177
155
730
Conclusions
2,495
2,803
2,879
3,025
11,202
% concluded within 1 year
59%
64%
64%
63%
63%

Table 3: Quarterly conclusions for asylum cases in 2011/12 ( main applicants and dependants)[30]

42. In 2011/12 conclusion rates remain constant, ranging between 59-64%. The percentage of cases concluded within one year was 63%. The Agency's annual performance figures for the previous year 2010/11 show that 63% of cases were concluded within 36 months. The Agency has therefore improved its performance on last year. We will be interested to see how many cases were still outstanding after 36 months in 2011/12 when the Agency publishes its annual performance figures in August.

43. We note that 63% of cases are now being concluded within 12 months an improvement on the previous year where 56% of cases were concluded within this timeframe.[31] However we are concerned at the large number of cases that remain outstanding for years. We acknowledge that there will be difficulties in resolving a proportion of complex asylum cases. However, to have resolved only 63% of cases after a three-year period seems to us to be a very slow rate of conclusion. We believe this could lead to a new backlog building up as more cases are added to the "awaiting conclusion" pile. We expect the Agency to tell us what the main obstacles to concluding these cases are and we hope that its new performance statistics released in August will show an improvement.


25   Home Office Immigration Statistics, January - March 2012, asylum tables, as 01.q and as.02.q, www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/ Back

26   These cases do not necessarily relate to the applications made in this period. Back

27   House of Commons Library, note for HASC on Statistics on Immigration and Asylum, 12 June 2012, p3 Back

28   House of Commons Library SN/SG/1403, June 2010, p9 Back

29   Q150, Q149 Back

30   Percentage-of -asylum.xls. UK Border Agency website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/

Notes: Cohort: Number of applications received in a month, based on main applicants only and excluding dependants and any fresh applications. The data relate to applications which were one year old in the quarter. For example, Q1 2010-11 relates to data for applications received in April, May and June 2009.

Unsubstantiated: When an individual claims asylum but then does not turn up for their interview to substantiate the grounds of their claim. Unsubstantiated claims are excluded from this calculation but other withdrawn claims are included.

Conclusion: An asylum application is deemed to be concluded when: an asylum seeker has either been granted asylum, humanitarian protection, discretionary leave; or, if refused, has left the UK (voluntarily or by enforced removal); or the individual withdraws their asylum claim. Back

31   UKBA, Asylum Speed Measures.xls, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/further-key-data/ Back


 
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Prepared 23 July 2012