Thank you to those who have contacted me about support for asylum seekers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Concerns have been raised about the level of asylum support – currently £37.75 per week – and the adequacy of this during this public health emergency.
The Government has said it is reviewing asylum support, taking factors related to the ongoing pandemic into consideration. I will follow any developments on this closely. In addition, I believe the Government should ensure that all asylum seekers have access to healthcare, and specifically testing, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More widely, I believe we need to see significant improvements in the asylum system. It is deeply concerning that the number of people waiting more than six months for a decision on their asylum claim has hit record levels. In the year ending December 2019, 29,218 asylum seekers had been waiting more than six months to receive an initial decision. This compares with 16,555 the year before – a 77% increase. Real people suffer when the Home Office takes too long to decide a claim. We are also seeing unacceptable error rates in decisions on asylum claims, indicating serious flaws in the decision-making process.
The UK has a proud history of providing asylum to people fleeing violence and persecution and I will continue to press the Government to ensure all claims are assessed fairly, humanely and in a timely way.