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Inexperienced and low-paid staff adding to asylum claims backlog, Home Office insiders say

‘It’s taking them longer to learn and that slows it all down,’ one employee reportedly said

Holly Bancroft
Wednesday 23 November 2022 08:55 GMT
Asylum hotels chaos caused by 'failure to plan', minister says

Inexperienced and low-paid staff are being hired to handle asylum claims which is increasing the long backlog of decisions, insiders claim.

The number of migrants waiting more than three years to find out if they have been granted asylum in the UK has more than quadrupled in 18 months as thousands of people are left in limbo.

The latest figures, shared with The Independent, show that there has been a huge surge in asylum seekers waiting many years for an initial decision.

Now Home Office insiders have told BBC’s Newsnight that the backlog is being made worse by novice staff slowing down the process.

One person, with several years of experience working in the department, said: “To make and write decisions is more difficult than people think.

“They’re hiring large numbers of inexperienced staff who need to be trained to do this and that takes time, so the backlog grows.

“And it’s young staff facing these harrowing stories and earning low wages - so what’s the incentive to stay?

“There isn’t one ... so they leave and then they hire someone else and so it continues.”

Asylum seekers are waiting many years for decisions on their claims (AFP via Getty Images)

Nearly 130,000 people are waiting for an asylum claim decision, government figures for June 2022 show.

Another employee said: “People work desperate hours every day. They’re hiring more decision-makers but some haven’t worked in this area before, so it’s taking them longer to learn and that slows it all down.

“It takes a while to get them up to speed and my worry is that the wrong decisions could be made affecting the lives of vulnerable people.”

The Observer has previously reported that the Home Office was hiring asylum decision-makers from customer service and sales positions at McDonald’s, Tesco and Aldi.

The new recruits had no prior experience or knowledge of the asylum system, the paper reported.

Manston asylum processing centre has now been empty after serious concerns were raised about overcrowding at the site (Getty Images)

One insider who was training new staff reportedly said: “They’re getting in far too many inexperienced people, with no understanding of the asylum system, and they just don’t have the support they need so they leave.”

The Home Office said that it was working to tackle the backlog of asylum decisions and had “increased asylum caseworkers by 80 per cent to more than 1,000”.

It added that “a successful pilot scheme to boost the number of claims processed is now being rolled out across the country”.

“We are doing everything we can to address this issue. The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find alternative appropriate accommodation as swiftly as possible,” it said.

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