The Home Office is scrapping its target of processing most asylum claims within six months, the Guardian has learned. Human rights lawyers expressed alarm at the news, saying the number of vulnerable asylum seekers facing delays in having their claims processed could become even worse than its current level. One said the decision was likely to lead to an increase in legal challenges against the Home Office if applications are not processed promptly. In 2014 the Home Office introduced a service standard to process 98% of straightforward asylum claims within six months.
The Guardian revealed last August that the Home Office has left some people waiting more than 20 years for decisions on their asylum claims. Seventeen people received decisions from the Home Office in 2017 on claims they had submitted more than 15 years ago, four of whom had waited more than 20 years for a decision. The worst case was a delay of 26 years and one month after the person initially applied. A report from the charity Refugee Action showed that at the end of 2017, 14,306 people were waiting longer than the Home Office’s six-month target, a 25% increase on the previous year. Of the decisions the Home Office made in 2017, 18,189 or 75% were taken within six months of application, 2,832 took between six months and a year, 3,059 between one and three years and 243 between three and five years.
Read more: Eric Allison and Diane Taylor, https://is.gd/QVmyDA