AN INCREASING number of people were claiming asylum assistance in Test Valley last year, as the UK faces a backlog of more than 100,000 asylum applications.

Figures from the Home Office show that 94 people were claiming asylum assistance in the area as of December 2022, up from two a year before. 

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.

Claimants may also be eligible for Section 98 – which is given to those who appear destitute and are waiting to see if they are eligible for Section 95 – or Section 4, for after a claim is rejected.

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Of these people in Test Valley, four were receiving Section 95 support.

The figures come as the UK's backlog in asylum applications topped 160,900.

This was up 60 per cent from 100,600 for the same period in 2021, and the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

The Refugee Council charity called the backlog "alarming", adding people fleeing persecution are being left "in limbo" while awaiting a decision.

"We need an asylum system that isn’t just about control, but is also about compassion and competence," its CEO, Enver Solomon, added.

In an effort to speed up the process, thousands of asylum seekers will now be sent 10-page questionnaires to fill out instead of facing an interview, with officials warning their claim could be “withdrawn” if they do not reply with the required information.

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A Home Office spokesman said: “Our priority is to stop the boats and ensure that people who come here illegally are detained and swiftly removed.

“We are working to speed up asylum processing so that people do not wait months or years in the backlog, at vast expense to the taxpayer, and to remove everyone who doesn’t have a legitimate reason to be here.”