Sunday, October 25, 2020
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Scandalous cost of failed asylum seekers

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THE cost to the taxpayer of supporting failed asylum claimants is estimated to be £130million in the most recent year.

A new paper by Migration Watch UK finds that the total number of failed claimants may have increased from 15,000 to around 20,000 over the past five years.

The cost to the taxpayer (including staff and administration costs) was estimated at just under £100million in 2014/15, and this is believed to have risen to £130million in the year to June 2020, an increase of about £30million.

The government declines to disclose exact numbers so Migration Watch made the estimate on the basis of the best information available.

Failed asylum seekers are able to get support if they have dependent children, or if they are destitute and meet one or more of several conditions, including taking all reasonable steps to leave the UK or being unable to travel for a medical reason.

Provision is usually provided in the form of furnished accommodation (with no utility bills or council tax to pay) and a weekly cash allowance of £39.60 per week to cover living costs such as groceries. Free access to healthcare and schooling is also provided, but the estimate does not cover these costs.

David Cameron’s Conservative government said in 2015 that there is no international obligation to support those refused asylum or other classes of illegal migrant. It added that such provision ‘is wrong in principle and sends entirely the wrong message to those migrants who do not require our protection but who may seek to exploit the system. It also undermines public confidence in our asylum system’.

Shockingly the UK government continues to provide this even though the part of the Tony Blair-era law which requires this was repealed just before the EU Referendum, in May 2016.

Had this change been implemented, it may have saved UK taxpayers’ money and also helped to discourage illegal Channel crossings; these have seen more than 9,000 detected arrivals since the start of 2018.

It is also unacceptable that the government declines to reveal both the numbers and costs related to this. The public deserve to know what their taxes are being spent on.

Many taxpayers are not keen for their hard-earned money to be used in a way which may encourage a flouting of the law, especially during a pandemic when restrictions on the liberty of citizens have increased.

It is surely wrong that we continue to undermine our own laws by providing housing and payments for people who have no legal right to be in the UK. Instead of dragging their feet, the government should swiftly implement the repeal of this alongside other changes seriously to toughen up enforcement.

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Alp Mehmet
Alp Mehmet
Chairman of Migration Watch UK, former British diplomat.

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