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
    claims.

    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
    improvements

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

     

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