Politics

Sunak making slow progress on asylum pledges amid record visas issued

The number of visas issued to Foreign workers into the UK reached record levels in 2023, according to newly released figures.

The official data also shows Rishi Sunak’s government made slow progress towards his promises to end the use of hotels for asylum seekers, slash the backlog of applications and “stop the boats”.

Home Office visa data shows that the number of visas issued to people seeking to work in the care sector, excluding dependants, reached 106,000 in 2023. Health and care visas as a whole now make up 75% of all long-term “skilled worker” visa grants, in a work visa system increasingly dominated by the public sector.

The figures released on Thursday came as the Conservatives and Labour gear up for immigration to be a key battleground at the general election later this year.

In January, the Home Office was reprimanded by the statistics watchdog after the government was accused of lying about clearing part of the asylum backlog.

Sunder Katwala, the director of the British Future thinktank, said: “These figures show how the government has tackled one asylum backlog only to start building another.”

Centre for Migration Control took a look at the stats, and found that a record 1.395 million people were given visas last year.

Six months after Sunak’s promise to end the use of hotels to temporarily house asylum seekers, there are 45,768 people still living in them as they wait for their applications to be processed.

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