IT is a political priority of mine to demand that our government offers the gold standard of support for those fleeing persecution and violence.
A compassionate policy towards asylum seekers is something that Britain’s proud history demands and something that all politicians should feel comfortable in supporting. However, I have serious concerns about the systematic failures at the heart of our current asylum system.
For a start applications are not being processed with the necessary efficiency and thousands of asylum seekers are left waiting for prolonged periods to establish their fate.
Recent home office figures show that – at the end of March 2017 – 8,000 people had been waiting over six months for a decision on their asylum application.
This was condemned by the home affairs select committee, which noted that “the reality is that people have been housed in such accommodation for far longer than the target of 19 days”.
This failure is compounded by the condition of the “temporary” accommodation that is offered. That asylum seekers are being housed for protracted periods in sub-standard, overcrowded, properties is totally unacceptable and should be a matter of great shame for the government.
I am in frequent contact with the home office regarding local cases in which properties, plagued by infestations and structural deficiencies, are making life a misery for the inhabitants. Those who were led to believe that Britain would provide a safe haven from their troubles are left despairing.
The government must set about implementing a streamlined system that assesses claims in a timely way, and treats asylum seekers humanely.
The current system is both letting down asylum seekers and the communities where they are allocated to live in. Labour’s general election manifesto committed to reviewing these arrangements, and if the government were to follow suit they would have our support.
With parliamentary recess over, I will be challenging ministers to fix this broken system and to treat asylum seekers with the compassion and dignity that they deserve.
As the daughter of a political asylum seeker myself, it is an issue close to home, and I will not stay quiet while the status quo persists.
TULIP SIDDIQ MP
Labour, Hampstead & Kilburn