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Cover of report management of asylum applications showing people at passport control

Management of Asylum Applications by the UK Border Agency

“The aim of the New Asylum Model is to strengthen the management of asylum applications, and it has delivered some improvements. But the system is not yet working as it should for every case. The UK Border Agency has to be sharper in gathering all relevant information as early as possible, translating it into good decisions and then speedily enforcing those decisions. There is a risk that a new backlog of unresolved cases will be created, adding to the existing backlog of ‘legacy cases’.”

23 Jan 2009
Report cover showing Bicester Accommodation Centre

Home Office: The cancellation of Bicester Accommodation Centre

“There were two main risks to successful delivery of the Bicester asylum centre: one related to project management, such as delays, higher costs and falling benefits; and the second a change in the demand for such a facility, due to other initiatives. Unfortunately, both of these risks were realised.

“Bicester highlights the need for Departments to identify, for schemes that require planning permission, the impact of planning delays on cost and delivery using a range of scenarios. The Home Office must now move forward and consider how to get best value from the empty site in Bicester.”

8 Nov 2007
Report cover showing a passport

Identity and Passport Service: Introduction of ePassports

“The Identity and Passport Service used sound project management techniques and made effective use of technical specialists to ensure the ePassports project was delivered on time and UK ePassports meet international standards.

“However, the full security benefits of ePassports will not be realised until UK border control readers are fully upgraded, and it is only then that we will know the impact of this new technology on travellers. To ensure future projects deliver value for money, the Identity and Passport Service should aim to improve its engagement with other parts of government, and develop greater in-house expertise to reduce its reliance on external consultants.”

7 Feb 2007
Report cover showing aeroplane

Returning Failed Asylum Applicants

“The integrity of the asylum system depends in part on returning failed applicants to their home country in a timely fashion. The pool of failed applicants is somewhere between 155,000 and 283,500, with the number of removals and voluntary returns in 2004-05 being 12,110. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate has made progress but needs to do a better job to track and manage cases and do more to encourage failed asylum applicants to return home voluntarily. Detaining failed applicants increases the likelihood of successful removal, but it is expensive and more efficient use could be made of such facilities. Improvements in all these areas will be needed if the Immigration and Nationality Directorate is to meet its new target to achieve more removals than there are failed applicants in any given month and to start reducing the backlog.”

19 Jul 2005
Report cover showing an asylum seeker looking out of the window

National Asylum Support Service: The Provision of Accommodation for Asylum Seekers

“Providing suitable accommodation for asylum seekers is one of the most complex and difficult tasks facing the government. The National Asylum Support Service was stretched to the limit when the number of asylum seekers in accommodation reached over 67,000 in March 2003. Although the Service managed to deal with this workload, its contracts did not always provide value for money.

“In order to avoid such difficulties in future, it is important that NASS be able to respond more readily to fluctuations in demand. By transferring more of the risks and responsibilities onto its contractors, the Service will be in a better position to monitor performance and take corrective action when there are changes in the number of asylum seekers requiring accommodation.”

7 Jul 2005
Report cover showing asylum seeker

Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions

“Quick and soundly-based decisions on asylum applications reduce the cost to the taxpayer and uncertainty for the applicant. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate and Immigration Appellate Authority have been successful in making decisions on new applications much more quickly, hence my belief that had the Directorate maintained, for example, the capacity achieved in 2001 further substantial savings could have been made.”

“The complex challenges faced by the Directorate’s caseworkers should not be underestimated, however. Improved recruitment, more extensive training and more specialisation in dealing with particular types of cases would improve the quality of decision-making by the Directorate. Higher quality decision-making at the initial stage might save the taxpayer money and make it easier to return failed applicants more quickly to their country of origin.”

23 Jun 2004
Cover of report showing a passport

Visa Entry to the United Kingdom: The Entry Clearance Operation

“It is government policy to facilitate entry of those qualifying for visas as quickly and simply as possible while turning away unqualified applicants. Entry clearance staff have done much to achieve ease of entry. Adequacy of controls has been more difficult to achieve because there is no comprehensive feedback on whether visa entry conditions are obeyed by those receiving them; nevertheless improvements are possible even so and are recommended in this report.”

17 Jun 2004
Report cover

United Kingdom Passport Agency: The passport delays of Summer 1999

Delays in issuing passports earlier this year led to much anxiety and inconvenience for members of the public hoping to travel. By June, the Passport Agency had around 565,000 applications awaiting processing. Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, reported to Parliament today on the delays at the Agency during Summer 1999. Several … Read more

27 Oct 1999