Over 70,000 people are waiting for a decision on their asylum claim.

The Home Office’s top civil servant has told MPs that it takes on average “over a year” to process an asylum application in the UK.

Appearing in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft said the average was “going up” because applications are not being processed fast enough. Mr Rycroft said the Home Office hoped this would no longer be the case by next April.

The asylum applications backlog has been growing over recent years. Before the pandemic, the share of asylum applications that received an initial decision within six months had fallen from 87% in 2014 to just 20% in 2019.

The Home Office scrapped its target of processing asylum applications within six months in 2019.

Over 70,000 asylum seekers are now waiting for a decision on their claim. This is up 73% over the past two years despite a decline in the number of applicants. Mr Rycroft said Home Office assessments of when the asylum applications backlog would be cleared were “internal” and “should probably stay that way.”