Home Office recruits just one person in recruitment drive

A drive by the Home Office to recruit hundreds of staff to tackle an asylum backlog ended up with just one person being hired, a watchdog has revealed.

A damning report described how the department’s sought to employ an extra 250 workers to deal with a build-up of 9,748 ‘non-straightforward’ cases involving refugees.

These were applications that were so complicated the Asylum Intake and Casework unit assigned them 12 months, rather than the usual six, for completion.

The Home Office pledged to recruit hundreds of staff after an asylum backlog but have hired just one person

The new staff – dubbed ‘decision makers’ – should have been in place at offices in Bootle, Merseyside, in July this year.

But Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Bolt said: ‘In the event, only one new decision maker was in post.

‘Managers explained there had been delays in the recruitment process, mostly in obtaining security clearance for the new staff.’

Bosses said the backlog should be eliminated by May 2018.

The report warned that the Home Office was struggling to keep on top of thousands of asylum claims registered in the UK every year.

At the end of March, 20,385 asylum cases were awaiting an initial decision – an increase of 1,530 compared with 12 months earlier.

Mr Bolt said problems were caused by prolonged recruitment gaps and a high turnover of staff

Mr Bolt said problems were caused by prolonged recruitment gaps and a high turnover of staff

Nearly half of the applications were categorised as ‘non-straightforward’, after the proportion of claims assigned to this bracket increased from 39 per cent to 48 per cent in a year.

The category covers several different case types, including those where claimants are pregnant or report that they have suffered torture prior to arriving in Britain, as well as where it is assessed the asylum claim may fall to be considered by another EU member state.

Mr Bolt flagged up problems caused by high staff turnover and prolonged recruitment gaps.

A Home Office spokesman said the report ‘recognises the commitment of our staff who work in the challenging and high-pressured area of asylum casework’.

But he added: ‘We are not complacent and we accept the Independent Chief Inspector’s conclusions that some changes are needed.’

In 2016-17, the Home Office registered 29,549 asylum claims – a reduction of 5,981 (19.7 per cent) on the previous year.


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