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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

New migration stats reveal most Channel crossers win asylum when their cases are considered

  • Cases awaiting asylum decision have doubled over past two years, with over 100,000 currently undecided 

  • Concern that legal routes to resettlement are failing most small boat arrivals after strong official focus on Ukrainians and Afghans 

IPPR’s analysis of today’s quarterly migration and asylum statistics, covering the year ending June 2022, highlights the following trends: 

  • The vast majority of small boat arrivals between January 2018 and June 2022 claimed asylum (94 per cent), but most of the main applicants (82 per cent) are still awaiting an initial decision. 

  • Of around 7,000 who have received an initial decision since 2018, 43 per cent were not considered for asylum because the government is seeking to remove them to a safe third country. But of those cases that were considered, 86 per cent were successful. 

  • The number of asylum applications pending decision has continued to increase. The number of cases awaiting initial decision or further review stands at more than 100,000, more than twice as many as two years ago. There are now around 70,000 cases awaiting initial decision for more than six months. 

  • The most common nationalities of small boat arrivals in the first half of this year have been Albanians and Afghans, each making up 18 per cent of total arrivals. This marks a significant shift from 2021, when the most common nationalities were Iranians and Iraqis. 

  • Resettlement numbers under government schemes, outside the bespoke Afghan and Ukraine schemes, remain very low since the pandemic. Around 1,600 people were resettled in the 12 months to June 2022, compared with around 5,600 in 2019. 

Commenting on the figures, Marley Morris, IPPR associate director for migration, trade and communities, said:  

“Today’s figures reveal that the vast majority of small boat arrivals are claiming asylum and that when they have their claim considered they are successful. But many are at risk of being relocated to Rwanda under the government’s new plans. 

“It’s also clear that too many of these claims are stuck in the system, as the number of asylum applications awaiting initial decision or further review has risen to above 100,000 – more than double the figure from just two years ago. 

“One year since the Afghan evacuation, the figures also show that nearly a fifth of small boat arrivals this year are from Afghanistan. Despite the government’s claims to support Afghan refugees, many believe they are being left with no option but to attempt the dangerous journey across the Channel. 

“These figures make clear that the asylum system needs urgent reform. The government should ramp up safe and legal routes, speed up asylum decision making, and drop its inhumane plans to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda.” 


Available for interview: Marley Morris, IPPR associate director for migration, trade and communities, and Amreen Qureshi, research fellow in the same team 


David Wastell, Director of News and Communications: 07921 403651 [email protected]  


  1. IPPR is the UK’s pre-eminent progressive think tank. With more than 40 staff in offices in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.