Stats watchdog launches investigation into government’s asylum backlog claim | Politics News

The UK’s stats watchdog has launched an investigation into the government’s claim that it cleared the legacy backlog of asylum claims in 2023.

Rishi Sunak and his administration faced criticism on Tuesday for saying they had cleared all the applications to remain in the UK by asylum seekers made before 28 June 2022.

In total, 4,537 claims from the backlog still needed a decision as of Tuesday – but Mr Sunak’s spokesman said since these had been reviewed, the government considers them “cleared”.

Now, the Office for Statistics Regulation has launched an investigation into the announcement.

In total, the government had 92,000 claims to address from before June 2022 to meet the pledge made by Mr Sunak.

Numbers published by the Home Office showed that, in total, 112,138 initial asylum decisions were made between 1 January and 28 December, compared with 31,766 in all of 2022.

Some 86,800 of these decisions were for legacy cases, while, 25,338 were for non-legacy cases.

In total, 51,469 asylum applications were granted, while 25,550 were refused – meaning 67% were accepted. But it also means that 35,119 “non-substantive” decisions were made.

According to the Home Office, this is where the government withdraws the claim, it is paused, declared void or the applicant failed to complete a part of the application.

The 35,119 figure is more than two and a half times the 13,093 examples of non-substantive claims recorded in 2022.

The government has said that the remaining 4,537 more complex cases typically involve “asylum seekers presenting as children – where age verification is taking place; those with serious medical issues; or those with suspected past convictions, where checks may reveal criminality that would bar asylum”.

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