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How can government improve its approach to asylum policy making?

The future of the UK asylum system will be a central topic in the 2024 general election campaign.

panel on stage at the Institute for Government

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The future of the UK asylum system could dominate the 2024 general election campaign. The prime minister has made his controversial Rwanda plan a flagship part of the government’s agenda, while Labour has committed to reforming the asylum system as part of its plan to tackle Channel crossings. 

Rishi Sunak pledged to clear the legacy asylum backlog by the end of 2023, but the sizeable backlog of people waiting for a decision remains – with the government struggling to deal with new asylum cases and problems elsewhere in the system.  

So what are these problems? Does the government have a coherent plan to bring down the backlog? And what can be done to improve the UK’s asylum system in the long term? 

This panel examined what steps the government can take to ensure the asylum system is fit for purpose in the long term.

We were joined by an expert panel, including:

  • Alvina Tamara Chibhamu, Ambassador at the VOICES network
  • Sal Copley, Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs at the British Red Cross
  • Lizzie Dearden, Home affairs journalist and author
  • Sir Philip Rutnam, former Permanent Secretary at the Home Office

The event was chaired by Joe Owen, Director of Impact at the Institute for Government.

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We would like to thank the British Red Cross for kindly supporting this event.

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Asylum backlog

The asylum backlog refers to the number of people seeking asylum in the UK who are awaiting a decision on their case.