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Volume 461: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 28 February 2007, Official Report, column 1351W, on asylum, what the normal criteria are for the allocation of cases between regions; what the regional strategic co-ordination arrangements are; and who makes the decisions on allocation. (130034)

In each case, the Border and Immigration Agency first establishes whether there are special circumstances that would require an applicant to be housed in London or in a specific location outside London (for example if a medical condition was treatable only in a limited number of hospitals in the UK). If no such circumstances exist, asylum applicants who require accommodation are allocated to a case owner in one of the Border and Immigration Agency’s regions outside London. This reflects the Border and Immigration Agency’s policy of housing destitute asylum seekers away from London and the South East in places where accommodation is more freely available and in a manner which represents better value for money for the taxpayer.

Once any special circumstances have been ruled out, the decision to allocate to a particular region is made by the Border and Immigration Agency staff and is based upon a complex algorithm incorporating information on the availability of accommodation, the numbers of asylum seekers already housed in that region, the need to ensure each accommodation provider receives an equitable share of the Border and Immigration Agency business and the availability of the Border and Immigration Agency caseowner resource in that region.

Once an applicant has been allocated to a particular region, the accommodation provider then has some latitude as to in which town or city in that region the applicant is housed. The Regional Strategic Coordination Groups are a forum through which local authorities, accommodation providers, the Border and Immigration Agency and other key players should be able to influence, over time, the spread of the available accommodation within that region.