75% of asylum seekers wait more than six months for decision – report

Three quarters of asylum seekers in the UK waited more than six months for an initial decision on their case in the last quarter of 2018, a new report shows.

The report, published by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, found 25% of people seeking asylum received an initial decision on their case within six months in late 2018.

This is a big decrease from the last quarter of 2012 when 73% of applicants received an initial decision within six months and the second quarter of 2014 when 80% were notified within six months.

The report, published on Friday, suggests the complexity of cases and changes in policy, including the suspension of the fast track detention system in 2015, could be behind the decrease.

The data also showed that as of June 30, just under 32,000 people seeking asylum were awaiting an initial decision on their case with just under 17,000 of these applicants waiting for more than six months.

Migration Observatory researcher and report author Dr Peter Walsh said there is no single explanation for the change in wait time.

“A few years ago, a solid majority of asylum seekers got an initial decision within six months, but now it’s only one in four,” Dr Walsh said.

“This of course is just the first stage of the asylum process, and after you factor in appeals, the whole process can take years for many applicants.”

The data also revealed most people seeking asylum in 2018 were from Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan and Albania, with most living in the north east of the UK.

Glasgow had the most asylum seekers as of the end of June this year, with the south east and east of England housing the fewest, the report found.

Dr Walsh said the data suggests that in the year to June 2019, more than 150 regions in the UK did not house a single asylum seeker on section 95 support, while Glasgow took in more than 4,000.

“Many of these authorities will have supported resettled refugees, but nevertheless, the distribution of asylum seekers around the UK is pretty unequal,” he said.

The report found 55% of asylum applications from 2012 to 2016 had been accepted by May 2019. This takes into account appeal decisions.

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