26,547Asylum applications made in the last 12 months
There were 26,547 asylum applications made in the UK in the last 12 months, an 8% decrease on the previous year.
The latest statistics show that 19.6 million non-EEA nationals arrived in Britain in the year up to March 2019 – but just 0.16% of them were seeking refuge here. Of course, not all people seeking asylum will be granted permission to stay in Britain.
Just 39% of initial decisions made in the year to March 2019 resulted in a grant of protection, meaning they were awarded refugee status or humanitarian protection and allowed to remain in the UK.
We welcome the fact that over the last 12 months, 17,304 people were granted protection in the UK, the highest number in a single year since 2003. Of these, 40% were children.
The proportion of asylum appeals allowed in the year to March 2019 was 39%.
The quality of decision making is often poor, with many refugees having to rely on the courts to award protection following an appeal of the Government’s initial decision. The appeals process can be complex and lengthy, with people seeking asylum having to wait months for their appeals to be heard.
Thousands of people have to wait years for a decision on their claim, meaning they are left in limbo and unable to plan for their futures.
The total backlog in cases pending an initial decision increased from 27,256 at the end of December 2018 to 30,027 at the end of March 2019, marking a new record high. Each one of these cases represents a person anxiously awaiting news of their fate.
The total number of unresolved cases over 36 months old, which in addition to cases waiting for initial decisions includes those cases waiting for an appeal outcome and those which are on hold, has been continuously increasing since 2014.
At the end of March 2019, 51,372 people seeking asylum and their dependants were being supported by the Government. This figure has risen since 2012, but is still below the figure for end of 2003 when there were 80,123 people seeking asylum being supported.
People seeking asylum are banned from working and have only around £5 per day from the Government to cover the costs of their basic necssities. Could you live on just £5 per day?
39%of applications granted asylum at initial decision stage
The UK Government has the power to detain people who are here seeking refuge. Sometimes this even includes children. There is no maximum time limit in place for people held in detention, meaning people are held indefinitely.
The latest statistics show that in the last 12 months, 21,423 people were put in detention in an immigration removal centre; among them, 13,032 people seeking asylum.
69% of those detained were released back into the community, indicating flaws in the Government’s detention regime.
It is not just adults and families who come to the UK in search of safety; unaccompanied children, some as young as under 14 years old, also seek Britain’s protection.
Of the children who arrived in Britain alone and under their own steam, 55% were granted asylum in the year to March 2019, up from 50% in the year to Dec 2018.
A further 11% of separated children were granted short term leave to remain which expires after 2.5 years, leaving them uncertain and anxious about their futures.
The moment someone receives a positive decision on their asylum claim should be one of celebration and relief, an end to instability, and the start of a bright future where they are able to establish new lives in the UK. Instead, many newly-recognised refugees experience homelessness and/or destitution, right at this point.
The Home Office provides accommodation on a no-choice basis and subsistence support of around £5 per day for people seeking asylum if they would otherwise be destitute. But once they are awarded status, this support stops after just 28-days. Faced with a cliff edge and no support to find new housing, open a bank account, and secure income, among other activities needed before being evicted, many refugees are at significant risk of homelessness and/or destitution.
Just 1% of the world’s refugees will ever be resettled anywhere, which means many refugees face a long, uncertain wait to hear if they will ever be able to rebuild their lives in safety.
Over 12 million people have been forcibly displaced from Syria since the start of the conflict, of whom more than 6.3 million are refugees.
In September 2015, the then Prime Minister David Cameron promised to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 – just over 4,000 a year. The number of people arriving from Syria who are resettled in Britain now stands at 15,977 since the scheme began. But time is running out, and the Government has yet to announce their future plans for this scheme.
War and persecution often divides refugees from their families but there are few straightforward, legal ways for refugees to safely join loved ones in Britain.
One way which refugees could be allowed to travel to the UK safely is through the Mandate scheme. This enables refugees in other countries to join their families in Britain. Sadly, this route is rarely used by the Government with only 17 refugees arriving via the scheme in the twelve months ending March 2019.
Another safe and regular route for refugees to join their loved ones in the UK is via refugee family reunion visas. In the year ending March 2019, 5,662 Family reunion visas were issued to partners and children of those granted asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK, a slight 2% decrease compared to the previous year.
Yet these schemes are incredibly restrictive. Only spouses and dependent children eligible to apply for family reunion visas. People who have been granted protection in the UK may be alone, distraught and worried about the safety of their family who may still be in danger. Even unaccompanied children are not allowed to apply for their parents to join them in the UK. That is why we are campaigning to bring #FamiliesTogether. Learn more about our campaign and help us reunite loved ones by signing this petition .