Asylum numbers drop in region

THE number of asylum seekers receiving financial support or accommodation in the East of England has fallen by more than 300 in the last 12 months, it has been revealed.

By Danielle Nuttall

THE number of asylum seekers receiving financial support or accommodation in the East of England has fallen by more than 300 in the last 12 months, it has been revealed.

New Home Office data for the last quarter of 2005 shows 1,010 asylum seekers were receiving assistance in the region at the end of December compared to 1,350 in the same period of 2004.

Of those receiving support at the end of last year, 530 were being provided with financial help only while 480 were receiving accommodation.


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The figures show 50 asylum seekers were being supported in Ipswich between October and December last year compared to 95 a year ago.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The figures for the East of England are not remarkable because they match UK trends.

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“The reason for that is simply because the number of asylum seekers has fallen so dramatically. Subsequently, there has been a drop in the number requiring support, which is matched across the whole country.

“The Immigration and National Directorate has improved the time it takes to resolve applications so the number supported has reduced because of this. Effectively, we are trying to reduce the number of asylum applications.

“We will grant refugee status to those who are in genuine fear of persecution. It's about trying to make sure the number of removals outweighs the number of applications that come in and we are very much close to meeting that.

“We want to do even more to work to ensure those who have no legal right are removed.”

The spokesman admitted “clandestine” immigration was still a problem but he added that enforcement officers were working throughout the country to make sure those working illegally were arrested and removed from the UK.

Nationally, applications for asylum in the UK fell by 2% in the final quarter of 2005 to 6,165. The top five applicant nationalities were Iranian, Eritrean, Afghan, Chinese and Somali.

Meanwhile, 5,645 decisions were made between October and December last year and of these, 10% were granted asylum, 12% were granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave and 78% were refused.

In the final quarter of 2005, a total of 3,525 applicants were removed.

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