Britain Sees Surge in Asylum Claims, Channel Arrivals, and Backlog

Britain Sees Surge in Asylum Claims, Channel Arrivals, and Backlog

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In a remarkable development, the United Kingdom has encountered an unprecedented influx of asylum claims over the past year, reaching levels not seen in two decades.

The latest figures from the Home Office paint a stark picture of the situation.

During the year ending June 2023, a staggering 78,768 asylum applications were submitted, encompassing 97,390 individuals.

This marks a notable increase of 19% compared to the preceding year.

Dominant Nationalities and Channel Crossings

Among the various nationalities seeking asylum in Britain, Albanians took the lead with a significant 11,790 applications.

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An intriguing aspect is that 7,557 of these applications were attributed to individuals who arrived on boats through the English Channel.

Following closely, Afghans emerged as the second most common nationality, submitting 9,964 applications.

This figure almost doubles the count from the previous 12 months, which stood at 5,154.

Channel Arrivals and Record Backlog

The situation is further compounded by the influx of migrants crossing the Channel.

Astonishingly, more than 18,000 individuals have undertaken this perilous journey in small boats in the current year alone.

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A pivotal aspect of these immigration statistics is the record-breaking backlog of asylum cases.

A staggering 175,457 people are currently awaiting their initial application decisions. This number reflects a staggering 44% increase from the previous count of 122,213 and stands as the highest figure since record-keeping commenced in 2010.

Factors Contributing to the Backlog Surge

Attributing the backlog surge to a deluge of new cases inundating the asylum system, the Home Office underlined that a higher number of applications are entering the system than are receiving initial decisions.

However, there appears to be a silver lining, as the rate of backlog growth has decelerated, increasing by less than 1% during the three months up to June.

This could be due to an uptick in both the number of initial decisions rendered and the recruitment of additional asylum decision makers.

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Initial Decisions and Grant Rates

The Home Office also shed light on the nature of initial decisions made on asylum applications.

In the year leading to June 2023, 23,702 such decisions were reached, marking a substantial 61% upswing from the 14,730 decisions made in the preceding year.

Impressively, more than 70% (71%) of these initial decisions granted refugee status, humanitarian protection, or other forms of leave.

This ratio is significantly higher compared to pre-pandemic years when only around a third of initial decisions resulted in grants.

Expenditure and Visa Uptick

This surge in immigration and asylum-related issues has had fiscal implications as well.

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In the fiscal year 2022/23, the UK government allocated £3.97 billion for asylum-related expenses, nearly doubling the £2.12 billion spent in the previous fiscal year of 2021/22.

This starkly contrasts with the expenditure of £500.2 million recorded a decade ago in 2012/13.

On a somewhat related note, the realm of work visas also experienced a considerable spike.

The figures revealed a 45% rise in the issuance of work visas, totaling 321,101.

The driving force behind this increase lies predominantly in the realm of “Skilled Worker” visas, a category predominantly focused on healthcare and social care workers.

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These sectors have been grappling with acute worker shortages, further accentuated by the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic.

Border Challenges and Potential Solutions

Against this backdrop, the former head of Border Force, Tony Smith, provided insights into the challenges encountered in managing cross-Channel migration.

Smith revealed that migrants attempting the perilous Channel crossing often resist rescue until they reach British waters, as being rescued at sea would result in their return to France.

Smith emphasized the need for collaborative efforts between nations to address the issue comprehensively.

He called for agreements between the UK, France, and the EU to establish joint patrols that could return migrants directly to Calais, thus circumventing entry into the UK asylum system.

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In a poignant illustration of the ongoing challenges, a group of 50 migrants were escorted into Dover docks by a Border Force vessel.

This serves as a tangible reminder of the complex and multifaceted issues that nations like the UK are grappling with in the realm of immigration and asylum.

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