Britain receives 78,768 asylum claims in last 12 months

Britain receives 78,768 asylum claims in last 12 months – the highest level in 20 years – with backlog of applications topping 175,000 for the first time since records began as figures show 18,000 Channel migrants have arrived in UK this year

The number of asylum applications to the UK has hit the highest level in two decades, new Home Office figures revealed today. 

There were a total of 78,768 applications relating to 97,390 people in the year ending June 2023 – 19 per cent more than the previous year. 

Albania was the most common nationality applying for asylum in Britain, with 11,790 applications – 7,557 of which came from arrivals on boats crossing the Channel. 

Afghans were the second most common nationality, with 9,964 applications – almost double the number in the previous 12 months (5,154). 

More than 18,000 people have now crossed the Channel in small boats so far in 2023. 

Today’s immigration statistics revealed that the backlog of asylum cases has hit a record high, with 175,457 people waiting for an initial decision on their application. 

That was up 44% from 122,213 and the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

A group of migrants are brought ashore at Dover today, as new figures showed the number of asylum applications to the UK has hit the highest level in two decades

More than 18,000 people have now crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year. Pictured are people arriving this morning 

More than 18,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, figures reveal  

The rise was ‘due to more cases entering the asylum system than receiving initial decisions’, the Home Office said. 

However, the number of cases waiting for a decision has risen by less than 1% in the three months to the end of June, suggesting the increase is slowing down.

‘This is in part due to an increase in the number of initial decisions made, and an increase in the number of asylum decision makers employed,’ the Home Office added.

There were 23,702 initial decisions made on asylum applications in the UK in the year to June 2023, up 61% on 14,730 in the year to June 2022.

It is also above the 20,766 decisions made in the pre-pandemic calendar year of 2019.

Just over seven in 10 (71%) of initial decisions on asylum applications in the year to June 2023 were grants of refugee status, humanitarian protection or alternative forms of leave.

This is ‘substantially higher’ than in pre-pandemic years, when around a third of initial decisions were grants, the Home Office said. The grant rate has been above 70% since 2021.

Before then, the previous high was in 1990, when it stood at 82%, although the volume of applications was much lower at that time.

Home Office spending on asylum in the UK in 2022/23 stood at £3.97 billion, nearly double the £2.12 billion in 2021/22, government figures show.

A decade ago, in 2012/13, the total stood at £500.2 million.

Border Force officials escort 50 migrants to Dover docks after they arrived this morning 

Today’s immigration statistics also revealed a 45% increase in the number of work visas to 321,101. 

This was mainly driven by an increase in the ‘Skilled Worker’ visas for people working in health and social care, where there have been severe worker shortages. 

It comes as the former head of Border Force said cross-Channel migrants were resisting rescue until they reached British waters. 

Tony Smith told Today on BBC Radio 4: ‘Those on board are not seeking rescue, because… then they’ll be taken back to France.

‘So there is evidence that people are resisting rescue until such a time as they reach our waters and of course we are duty bound – Border Force is duty bound – to rescue them. 

‘Once they’re on board a British vessel they will claim asylum and that’s been the business model for some time now.’

Mr Smith said the Channel crisis would continue as long as the French authorities continued to ‘interpret international law’ in a way that means they do not intercept vessels unless those on board are in danger.  

He added: ‘I hear stories of tactics where vulnerable people are being held over the side of vessels with a threat that, ”We will scupper ourselves if you come near.”  

New immigration statistics published today showed there were 321,101 grants to main applicants on work visas in the year ending June 2023. That was 45% higher than the previous year

Mr Smith said this meant that the French had decided to escort the boats until they got to the UK. 

He called for a new agreement with France or the EU to create joint patrols that would take migrants back to Calais. 

‘There is provision in international law to do that, where two countries could collaborate on joint patrols, we could have our people on their vessels and vice versa,’ he said. 

‘But the deal would have to be that the migrants would be taken directly back to Calais.

‘And then of course they wouldn’t get into the UK asylum system. That’s where the blockage has been. 

‘The French position is that this is an EU- wide issue.’

A group of 50 migrants were escorted on a Border Force vessel into Dover docks this morning. 

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