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Asylum system cost 'reaches £10bn'

Three out of four asylum seekers remain in the UK, with most staying illegally, campaigners have said.

Migration Watch UK said one in four of the 660,000 decisions made on asylum claims between 1997 and 2010 led to the applicant being removed.

The cost of the asylum system, including legal aid and court costs, has reached almost £10 billion - or £2 million a day - since 1999, the campaign group said.

In a study published ahead of the release of official statistics on Thursday, Migration Watch UK found that of the 660,000 cases decided in the 13-year period, 509,000 applicants remain in the UK, 243,000 legally and 266,000 illegally.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group, said: "The asylum system has proved to be a £10 billion shambles. Those who, like ourselves, are serious about protecting genuine refugees should be no less serious about removing bogus claimants and, better still, deterring them in the first place."

He continued: "The system needs to be much faster. Delays in the system leave the door open for appeals based on the right to family life without any consideration for the rights of society in general."

The analysis showed that some form of protection was granted in 243,000 cases, leaving 417,000 which were refused and should have left or been removed from the UK. But 36% (151,540) of those denied asylum were removed and a further 8,615 were later established to have left the country without notifying the authorities.

Some 266,000 have neither left nor been removed and are therefore presumed to remain in the UK illegally, Migration Watch UK said. It added that it was possible that some of these may have been granted indefinite leave to remain if they were included in the backlog of more than 400,000 so-called legacy cases.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "The asylum system we inherited was hopelessly chaotic and did not provide the taxpayer with value for money. Last year we reduced the total bill for asylum support by over £100 million and it is falling further this year.

"Since taking office, we have nearly doubled the proportion of asylum seekers removed within one year of their application and around 60% of applicants now receive a decision within one month."


From Belfast Telegraph