Home Office could have made savings

The Home Office may have missed out on a £150 million
saving by moving caseworkers from deciding asylum applications to
work on removing asylum seekers whose claims have failed, the chair
of an influential committee of MPs said today, writes
Amy Taylor.

Edward Leigh MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts,
added that there was still “considerable scope” for the
Home Office to speed-up the decision making process on asylum

Leigh said that the Home Office had built up the number of
caseworkers deciding asylum applications to tackle the backlog of
applications but in 2001 it decided to move them to working on
removing asylum seekers whose claims had failed. He said that
although this may have saved an estimated £50 million in
asylum support costs, £200 million could have been saved by
leaving staff in place to clear the backlog of applications within
six months.

“In deciding how many staff to deploy, and where,
departments must consider the costs and savings available across
the whole programme,” he said.

He added that although he recognised that time was needed for
applicants to make their preparations for the case, the two months
that the Home Office generally allowed to consider most cases was
“too long” as it only took nine hours of actual work to
make a decision.

He made the comments as the committee published its fourth
report of this session which looks at effectiveness in tackling the
influx of asylum applications and whether there was scope to
improve the speed and the quality of decision making.

The committee examined the Home Office and the Department for
Constitutional Affairs on the basis of a report by the National
Audit Office on improving the speed and quality of asylum decisions
published in June 2004.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Since the time of the
NAO report we have made further major strides in the processing of
asylum claims.”

He added that the department’s five year strategy for asylum
and immigration published this week would help it to make further

Fourth Report: Improving The Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions
from: www.parliament.uk/commons/selcom/pachome.htm


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