Rise in people receiving asylum support in Wigan

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More people were receiving support while attempting to claim asylum in Wigan in September than a year earlier, figures show.

The figures come as a leading refugee charity predicts the Government will struggle to commit to its pledge to clear the backlog in asylum applications by the end of next year.

While awaiting a decision, asylum seekers are unable to work but can be entitled to financial assistance and accommodation through what is known as Section 95 support.

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Home Office figures show 909 people in Wigan were receiving Section 95 supportHome Office figures show 909 people in Wigan were receiving Section 95 support
Home Office figures show 909 people in Wigan were receiving Section 95 support

Home Office figures show 909 people in Wigan were receiving such support as of the end of September – up from 714 claimants in September 2021.

Across the UK, 101,000 people were receiving some form of asylum support at the end of September, up 46 per cent from the same time last year.

This included 58,000 people receiving Section 95 support, up from 46,000 the year before.

Recent refugees from Ukraine and Afghanistan receive different forms of support and are therefore not included in these figures.

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Separate data, also from the Home Office, shows nearly 23,000 Afghans had arrived in the UK as of November 4, while 150,000 Ukrainians had arrived by December 12.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has recently vowed to clear the backlog of 117,000 asylum claims by the end of 2023.

He said the Government was hiring more caseworkers and overhauling the system for processing system.

Downing Street later revised this figure, saying that the Government would only seek to clear the 92,000 claims made before June – leading to accusations that the plan was already "falling apart" by the Labour party.

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Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “No-one trusts the Conservatives to fix the asylum system they’ve broken over the last 12 years.”

Last year saw a significant rise people in the number of people on Section 98 support across the UK, which is given to those who appear destitute and are waiting to see if they are eligible for Section 95.

More than 37,000 people were being provided with such support at the end of September, dwarfing the nearly 17,000 at the same point last year.

Local figures on Section 98 recipients are unavailable.

The Refugee Council, a campaign group for refugees, said that the Prime Minister "had offered little in terms of concrete steps" to clear the backlog, adding that it is concerned the commitment will not be delivered.

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Tamsin Baxter, executive director of external affairs at the charity, said: "As the number of people waiting for a decision grows, so does the number of people left in limbo, unable to work and dependent on the Home Office for accommodation and financial support."

Across the North West, 11,715 people were receiving Section 95 support at the end of September, up from 8,944 in September 2021.

Meanwhile, 2,088 asylum seekers have been resettled across the region through various schemes since 2014.

The Home Office said it is working on clearing "legacy cases" from before the end of June, which was when the asylum processing system was changed.

It said the new Nationality and Borders Act means it can now differentiate claims based on whether people arrived in the UK through "legal or illegal routes".