Suella Braverman has refused to accept the conclusions of a report by MPs from all parties that finds internal failings rather than an increase in the number of migrants crossing the Channel are to blame for the collapse of the asylum system .
The Home Affairs Committee said the government had today rejected all recommendations he did so in a damning report released in July following a two-year investigation into the small boat crisis.
The report concluded that the government’s response to the crisis has been ‘characterized first by inattention, then by poor decision-making’ and dismissed the claim of former Home Secretary Priti Patel , that the asylum system is collapsing because of “various tensions, abuses, number of people coming to this country”.
Instead, MPs found that the growing pressures on the system resulted from the “lack of resources, by successive governments, of staff and technology in the asylum operations function at the Home Office”. As a result, the backlog of asylum applications being processed rose to 117,000 in June, more than double what it was in 2014.
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MPs criticized the Home Office’s ‘icy pace of decision-making’, with children having to wait an average of 550 days for a decision on their asylum claim and adults 449 days. More than 3,000 unaccompanied children have been housed in hotels that provide no on-site medical assistance since last October, according to a separate report by the Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration published this month.
No substantial increase
The committee said demand had not increased significantly, pointing out that there were 48,450 asylum applications in 2021, “a number broadly similar to those in every year since 2014, except for a decline during the pandemic, and much less than in the early 2000s”. .
Instead, MPs found that the growing pressures on the system resulted from “successive governments’ poor funding of the staff and technology of the asylum operations function at the Home Office”, resulting in its backlog of pending cases. ‘ has more than doubled since 2014.
The committee’s report, which was released in July, found that outdated computer systems, high staff turnover and an insufficient number of staff are to blame for the growing backlog.
He gave the example of Home Office staff having to manually update the details of an asylum case in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with over 100 columns – despite it being ‘lots of time’ and despite the document’s “tendency” to hang due to its size. .
MPs said dealing with the backlog of asylum applications must be the Home Office’s “top priority” and that it would “unlock substantial resources, reduce current pressures on contingencies and institutional accommodation and would allow a broader reform of the system”.
The government rejected the recommendation in its response published today and instead said its ‘top priority in this area is to deter and reduce illegal migration’.
By contrast, the committee said creating a safe and legal pathway for those who could successfully claim asylum in the UK could act as “a deterrent and deterrent” to crossing the Channel. More than 150 people have died trying to reach the UK by small boat over the past five years.
MPs have recommended that the government enter into discussions with the French government on the provision of UK asylum assessment centers in France to enable claims to be considered before migrants risk their lives trying to to cross. But the government rejected the suggestion, saying it would “create a new pull factor”.
The committee also asked Priti Patel to provide evidence that her flagship program in Rwanda – which would permanently move asylum seekers to have their claims assessed by the East African nation – would deter people from seek to arrive in the UK by irregular means.
The government offered no evidence in response and admitted that “the deterrent effect sought by the [Rwanda scheme] seeks to achieve cannot be quantified with sufficient certainty at this early stage”.
The Home Office also refused to provide the committee with more detailed costs for the scheme, despite claims by the Refugee Council that it could cost up to £1.4billion a year to relocate thousands of immigrants in Rwanda.
He said that “providing full details of funding arrangements at this stage would be detrimental to [the] interests of the UK government, weakening our ability to negotiate future agreements with other nations.
Braverman, who replaced Priti Patel as home secretary last month, said she would ‘love to have a Telegraph front page with a plane taking off for Rwanda’ at a party conference event conservative. “It’s my dream, it’s my obsession,” she added.
The first deportation flight to Rwanda was halted in July at 11 a.m. after an intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. The government is currently fighting to prosecute the scheme in the UK High Court.
Pressed by the committee to explain whether the policies were legal, the government responded by suggesting that international refugee conventions – which give asylum seekers the right to enter a country and have their claims considered – are obsolete.
“We take our international obligations seriously, but illegal economic migration on this scale was not the issue before those writing decades-old conventions,” he said.
The Home Affairs Committee said it “will now decide how to proceed in light of the government’s response and whether further action is required in due course”.
The chair, Labor MP Diana Johnson, said: ‘No matter what the Government says, it is clear that it has so far failed to adequately address the growth in Channel crossings .
“Thirty-eight thousand have made the trip so far this year, already more than in the whole of 2021, and yet only 4% of asylum applications last year were processed. This means that the backlog of 117,000 asylum applications is growing. We are now hearing reports that the government is paying to house asylum seekers in individual houses or even tent cities in London parks; and they are trying to get more hotel space at extra cost to the taxpayer. This strategy simply does not work.