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Voluntary Assisted Returns and Reintegration Package

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

In January 2006 the Home Office immigration and nationality directorate (IND) requested that a pilot scheme be undertaken by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to evaluate the effects that increased reintegration assistance may have on incentivising failed asylum seekers, and those who wish to withdraw any outstanding asylum applications or appeals, to return to their country of origin. This statement gives details of progress to date.

Introducing a pilot programme to offer VARRP (Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme) participants an additional £2,000 as either additional reintegration assistance or cash grants has increased the number of voluntary returns under this programme. There were 1,956 such returns between January-April 2006, and this represents an increase of 108 per cent. over the corresponding period in 2005.

A significant amount of work continues to promote voluntary returns, and there is to be a high level of interest to take up the scheme. We have decided to extend the scheme for a further six months, during which time IND and IOM will undertake additional analysis of the results of the pilot scheme to assist in developing the most appropriate level of incentive in future voluntary return programmes.

Only those who applied for asylum before 1 January 2006 can benefit from the enhanced package of reintegration assistance, and they must leave the UK between 1 July and 31 December 2006 in order to qualify.