As the UK prepares to welcome more people fleeing the war in Ukraine, Home Office data shows the area was home to 345 asylum seekers – people seeking sanctuary while applying for the right to be recognised as a refugee – in December.
The Government has launched a new sponsorship scheme – with people, charities and businesses providing a safe space for Ukrainians who do not have family ties in the UK.
The figures also show that last year, asylum applications in the UK increased by 63% to 48,540 – the highest number in almost two decades.
While awaiting a decision, asylum seekers are unable to work but can be entitled to financial assistance and accommodation through what is known as Section 95 support.
Around 54,700 asylum seekers in the UK were receiving Section 95 support at the end of last year, including 342 in Hartlepool.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council called on the Government to tackle a rise in people waiting over six months for a decision on their status, adding: “The UK must have an asylum system that is fair, humane, orderly and processes claims in an efficient and timely manner.
A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government is working with councils to ensure asylum seekers are distributed fairly around the UK, adding: “Our new plan for immigration will fix the broken asylum system, making it fair to those who need our help and firm on those who abuse our hospitality.”