Cost of asylum system soars 42% to £1.4bn as officials battle backlog of 115,000 cases that are still pending a decision, new figures show
The cost of the asylum system rocketed to nearly £1.4billion last year, the latest figures reveal.
Home Office data shows the overall cost of processing and supporting asylum seekers soared from £956million in 2019-20 to £1.359billion last year – up 42 per cent.
The leap means the taxpayer is footing a bill of £3.7million a day for the system, which Home Secretary Priti Patel has called ‘fundamentally broken’.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by members of the Border Force
The figures show 62,817 asylum seekers were getting taxpayer-funded support at the end of June.
The majority are given free accommodation and thousands have had their claims rejected but cannot be deported.
The overall cost is increasing dramatically as the Home Office struggles with a backlog.
There are now just under 115,000 asylum applications which have yet to be resolved by Miss Patel’s department.
The total includes 72,000 awaiting an initial decision on their refugee claim, up from 40,000 two years earlier.
Others are awaiting the outcome of an appeal or have exhausted their appeal options and are awaiting removal.
The pandemic has made it more difficult to remove failed asylum seekers.
The taxpayer is footing a bill of £3.7million a day for the system, which Home Secretary Priti Patel has called ‘fundamentally broken’
In the year to March, there were just 2,420 ‘enforced returns’, which included failed asylum seekers and immigration offenders. However, the number of enforced returns had begun to plummet even before Covid from a peak of more than 21,000 in 2004.
The total number of asylum claims lodged in the year to June was just over 31,000, down 4 per cent on the previous 12 months.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK which campaigns for tougher border controls, said: ‘As illegal crossings of the Channel shoot up, so will the cost of the asylum system and burden on the taxpayer – already at staggering levels.
‘The only way to check this uncontrolled trend is to return substantial numbers of irregular arrivals and failed asylum seekers. Alas, this appears to be beyond the Government’s competence.’
Since last year a greater proportion of asylum seekers have been coming to Britain in small boats across the Channel.
So far this year, more than 12,400 have made the perilous journey across the busy shipping lane compared to 8,410 in the whole of 2020.
Miss Patel has published new measures designed to cut the number of asylum claims by using a twin-track system.
Migrants arriving by irregular routes, such as in small boats across the Channel, will receive a less generous package even if their claim is accepted, while those who come via authorised routes will be rewarded.
Afghan nationals who arrive under schemes set up by the Home Office will be treated as ‘resettled refugees’ with the immediate right to work here.
This month ministers said at least 20,000 Afghans would be able to come to the UK under a new programme prioritising women, girls and minorities who may be at risk under the Taliban regime.