The asylum backlog in the UK has risen to a new record high, Home Office figures show.

More than 175,000 people were waiting for a decision on whether they will be granted refugee status at the end of June 2023 – up 44% from last year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set a target of clearing the so-called legacy backlog by the end of the year.

Since his promise in December 2022, Home Office officials have cleared on average 2,061 cases a month.

With 67,870 cases remaining, the Home Office will have to process with 11,311 cases per month if it is to meet its target.

The legacy backlog refers to the asylum applications lodged before June 2022.

The figures also show that 78,768 asylum claims were made in the year ending June 2023 – up by almost a fifth in a year and the highest number in two decades, the Home Office said.

The number of asylum applications being withdrawn – meaning the claims are ended when either by the asylum seekers themselves or by officials – has rocketed in the past year.

In the year to June 2022 it was 60 cases – the figure for the subsequent year is 15,308.

Government spending on asylum in the UK has almost doubled – from £2.12bn in 2021-22 to £3.97bn in 2022-23.

The figures also show some 44,460 people were recorded as having arrived by small boats in the year to June 2023, up 26% from the same period last year.

More than half of these arrived in the three months from August to October 2022. August last year saw the highest number of arrivals of any month since data was collected.

Source: BBC – UK

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