Former Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes recently noted that “getting to grips with the growing backlog of asylum decisions ... will require investment.” However, the aspects of the government’s New Plan for Immigration which have found their way into the current Borders and Immigration Bill in relation to asylum do not address this issue. Instead, the strategy seems to be to create a two-tier system that contrasts refugees who have arrived via ‘illegal’ routes with those who have been resettled from Refugee Camps under Government programmes.
Following a short period of consultation, on 6 July 2021 the Conservative government introduced to Parliament the Nationality and Borders Bill. Its provisions are highly controversial, a centrepiece of which is to make inadmissible asylum applications where the applicant has a ‘connection’ to a safe third country. It also contains provisions on detention, including the re-introduction of accelerated detained appeals (see chapter 14 updates), and expanding criminal powers. The Government argues in its policy statement on the ‘New Plan for Immigration’ that the measures are aimed at deterring the smuggling and trafficking of human beings, promoting a fair and efficient system and making it easier to remove those without a right to remain from the UK. Critics, however, argue that the proposals would criminalise many genuine asylum seekers and conflict with the UK’s international obligations under the Refugee Convention.
The Home Office has published a new policy on Medical evidence in asylum claims (August 2021). It is designed to tell Home Office caseworkers how to approach medical evidence and requests from legal representatives for more time to collect such evidence. This consolidates a policy on medico-legal reports from the Helen Bamber Foundation and Freedom from Torture and a separate policy on medical evidence not from those medical foundations.