Asylum Removals Slump As Applications Rise

Asylum removals slump as applications rise

Richard Ford
Home Correspondent
From The Times
February 27, 2008

The number of failed asylum-seekers and their dependants removed from Britain fell last year by more than a quarter compared with the previous 12 months, according to government figures published yesterday.

In a further blow for ministers, asylum applications rose by almost 20 per cent in the last three months of 2007 but fell by 8 per cent in the 15 states that were EU members before expansion four years ago.

Home Office figures showed that 13,595 asylum-seekers and their dependants were removed from the country in 2007 compared with more than 18,000 in the previous year.

The top five nationalities accounting for the biggest number of asylum removals in the last quarter of 2007 were Afghans, Turks, Nigerians, Pakistanis and Serbians.

Yesterdays statistics highlight the difficulty that the Government is having in removing failed asylum-seekers, particularly if they have been settled in the country for some years or are from states from which it is difficult to obtain new travel documents.

The sharp fall in asylum removals coincided with the Governments drive to increase the number of foreign national prisoners who are removed at the end of their sentences.

Asylum applications rose by 19 per cent to 6,910 in the last quarter of 2007, compared with the same period 12 months earlier. Overall the number of asylum applicants and dependants fell by 1 per cent to 27,905.

The figures show that 63,140 people were removed from Britain, of whom more than 42,000 were illegal immigrants and overstayers.

Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said: We deported the highest ever number of foreign lawbreakers up by a huge 80 per cent and we attacked illegal working much harder because it undercuts British wages, with 40 per cent more illegal working operations.

Mr Byrnes statement made no reference to the fall in removing failed asylyum-seekers from the country.

Separate figures published yesterday showed that 800,000 migrants from eight Eastern European states including 500,000 from Poland have applied to register for work since 2004, but in the past 12 months the numbers applying have fallen.

The number of applicants fell from 234,700 in 2006 to 214,500 last year just 4,000 above the 2005 figure.

The number of Poles approved to work fell from 162,000 in 2006 to 147,000 last year. However, there were increases in approved applicants from Hungary up from 7,060 to 8,720 and Slovakia rising from 21,755 to 22,020 The slowdown in immigrants registering for work comes as other EU states lift restrictions imposed in 2004. Just over 89,000 immigrants from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are claiming child benefit, and there have been 4,900 successful applications for income support, job-seekers allowance or state pension. A further 51,500 are claiming tax credits, and 1,021 are receiving help for homelessness.

David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: The comparative success of the UK economy in recent years has been largely due to the influx of willing workers from Eastern Europe.