Tuesday, 16 March 2010

All a bit foggy

Another one of the Starred Questions yesterday was asked by Lord Avebury:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a statement on the reductions in support payments to asylum seekers while they are awaiting a decision on their application.
Lord West of Spithead replied:
My Lords, on 5 October 2009, we removed the distinction between rates of asylum support provided to single adults aged 18 to 24 and those aged 25 and over. The new unified rate was based on the lower rate provided to 18 to 24 year-olds, uplifted by 5.2 per cent. The rates paid to children and couples were also increased by 5.2 per cent. We continue to provide the over-25 rate to those who were in receipt of it prior to 5 October 2009, so no individual saw a reduction in their rate of support.
The rest of the discussion was moderately interesting and showed that some noble peers (like their brethren in the Lower House) seem unable to realize that money has to come from somewhere and there is a limit how much the government can squeeze out of the taxpayer.

There is also a problem with numbers of asylum seekers, successful or otherwise. Lord Pearson asked:
My Lords, of the figures given by the noble Lord, how many applicants are successful every year and how many applicants are returned overseas?
Lord West could not, in all honesty, give an adequate reply.
My Lords, I do not have that specific figure at my fingertips, but I think around 13 per cent were being returned and around 30 per cent were successful. Any expert in mathematics can work out that that is not 100 per cent. That is because many of these cases involve dual counting, duplication, wrong names and so on. There are a huge number of those. We have to take into account all of the backlog as well as the people currently coming in. If I have a specific figure for those coming in now, I will write to the noble Lord.
That may give us some idea of what is going on but it is this lack of hard information that makes the whole subject so bothersome to the electorate and so hard for the main parties to tackle.

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