Asylum seekers - new figures

THE number of asylum seekers receiving financial support in the East of England has fallen by more than 800 during the past 12 months, new figures reveal.

THE number of asylum seekers receiving financial support in the East of England has fallen by more than 800 during the past 12 months, new figures reveal.

Home Office data published for the first quarter of this year shows a total of 1,410 asylum seekers were receiving support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) – a Government run agency.

The figure is 802 fewer than at the end of March 2002, when 2,220 asylum seekers were in receipt of some financial support to cover the cost of food and essential items.

However, the number of asylum seekers being supported in NASS accommodation has risen from 470 in the East of England at the end of March 2002 to 540 at the end of March this year.


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Of the 540 in accommodation, 70 are receiving accommodation in Ipswich.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: "We have taken a much tougher stance on NASS support to the introduction of a package of measures so that asylum seekers should claim as soon as they arrive in the UK.

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"It is not possible to say how much of the drop is down solely to the measures but obviously the fact that we have cut the number of applications by 32% is also a factor."

Nationally, 30,740 asylum seekers were receiving financial support at the end of March 2002 and 45,640 were in NASS accommodation.

This compares to 38,390 receiving financial support at the end of March this year and 54,295 in NASS accommodation.

Last month is was revealed a purpose built centre housing up to 100 asylum seekers could be set up in Ipswich.

Local authorities in the region are working together to find a suitable location for a new induction centre.

Suffolk is the preferred site however they are also considering sites in Bedford and Peterborough.

The centre would house adult refugees from countries such as Iraq, Iran, Zimbabwe and Somalia, arriving at the ports of Felixstowe, Ipswich, and Harwich, as well as at East Anglian airports.

It would be funded by the Home Office and would create a "slicker" system whereby people would stay for seven days unless their application proves successful, and they are given accommodation anywhere in the country.

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