Background to the report

The Home Office is responsible for asylum and protection in the UK, including ensuring compliance with the UK’s legal commitments. It is responsible for processing claims and supporting people seeking asylum who are destitute, by providing financial support and accommodation.

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At the end of March 2023, around 173,000 people (relating to about 134,000 asylum claims) were awaiting an initial decision, with the Home Office providing accommodation for around 109,000 of them.

Alongside wider policy changes, the Home Office started developing the asylum and protection transformation programme in 2021. The programme’s vision is to create a system “that is fair, supportive and efficient, where decisions made are right first time and customers in need of protection receive it quickly, and all are treated with dignity and respect.”

It has four core objectives: improving the customer journey; improving working experience; improving public and partner trust; and creating a flexible, sustainable and efficient asylum system.

The Home Office intends to achieve these objectives in part by increasing the speed of processing asylum claims and the quality of decisions, and increasing the supply of dispersal accommodation.

The Home Office expects the programme to cost around £430 million and achieve savings of £15 billion in the 10 years to 2032.

Scope of the report

This report examines the Home Office’s progress in delivering the asylum and protection transformation programme.

The report does not evaluate the wider policy changes, but it does discuss the potential impact of the programme on parts of the wider asylum system. We consider the wider asylum system to include any parts of the Home Office and other government organisations that a person who has applied for asylum may need to interact with.


The Home Office expects the asylum and protection transformation programme to reduce its costs by making asylum decisions more quickly, so it supports people seeking asylum for a shorter time; and by increasing its supply of dispersal accommodation, to reduce its reliance on costly hotels.

It is making some progress, but it is a long way from meeting its ambitions. While the Home Office has nearly doubled the number of decisions made each week, it is not clear whether this is sustainable, or whether it will be enough to clear the backlog of older asylum decisions by the end of 2023.

The Home Office is failing to meet its targets for securing accommodation in local authorities. It is not yet monitoring progress against its full set of objectives, but has recently assessed the programme as amber-red risk for delivery. The Home Office is not on track to achieve the full benefits it expects of the programme.

The changes the Home Office plans to implement through the asylum and protection transformation programme are necessary, but not on their own sufficient, to address the pressures in the asylum system. The changes will only work if all parts of the end-to-end asylum system can effectively manage the demands placed on them.

Ultimately, to achieve value for money, the Home Office needs to better coordinate and manage the impacts of the full range of changes it is implementing. Failing to do this risks moving backlogs and cost pressures to other areas, rather than resolving them.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (16 Jun 2023)

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