Home office challenged on number of failed asylum seekers still in UK…


January 28, 2003

The Government has been challenged to live up to its promise of making known all the facts on asylum by revealing their estimate of the number of failed asylum seekers still in the UK.

In response to Home Secretary David Blunkett's comments in the New Statesmen that he 'wanted to ensure that people know the facts and get information on which they can make a judgment,' independent think-tank MigrationwatchUK has called upon him to publish the Home Office's own assessment of these numbers.

'The whole reason for setting up Migrationwatch was to promote an informed public debate and so we welcome his comments. Of crucial importance to this debate is the number of asylum seekers who, despite a legal process costing £700m a year, remain in the country - even though they have no right to do so,' said Sir Andrew Green its chairman.

'Only by having an informed estimate of these numbers can we begin to assess their needs, and the impact and cost they are having on services in the UK, such as the NHS.

'Even allowing for the inevitably approximate nature of some of these estimates, we believe that about 300,000 failed asylum seekers have stayed on in Britain over just the last nine years. We challenge the Home Secretary to accept this estimate or to provide and substantiate an alternative figure,' he said.

Based on the latest Home Office statistics (HOSB 09/02) MigrationwatchUK calculate the following for the years 1993-2001: See note 1 below

Decisions (year of outcome)
439,540
Less total granted asylum, ELR, or appeal allowed
142,605
296,935

Less removals and voluntary departures

52,115
244,820

Add 30% allowance for dependants

73,460
318,280

'There has been a good deal of evasiveness on this issue by the Government - in the House of Commons on 20 January Minister of State, Mrs. Hughes, 'did not have the figure in her head' (Hansard Col 15). On Newsnight, on 24 January, Lord Filkin declined to give an estimate - so if Mr Blunkett means to have an honest debate its time these tactics were replaced with the facts on a matter of great public concern,' he said.

Said Sir Andrew: 'The Home Office claim that no estimate can be made because an unknown number return to their own countries without informing the British authorities. This last point is a matter on which the public can reach their own judgement as Mr. Blunkett suggests.'

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