Today, the National Audit Office publishes its report on Asylum accommodation and support, which examines the new AASC (asylum accommodation and AIRE contracts.

Migrant Help has been assisting vulnerable migrants in the UK for more than fifty years and ensuring that our clients receive the support they need is our absolute priority.

We recognise that in the early months of the new AIRE contract our services fell below the standard expected. This was caused by a number of factors, including the demand that exceeded even the highest estimated volumes on which the service model was based. We have worked very hard to make improvements and bring our staffing up to the level needed to cope with the demand.

We have worked with the Home Office and the accommodation providers to improve the notification system to enable us deliver more induction briefings in the initial accommodation within the required period. While we work very hard to complete and submit applications for support as quickly as possible, the timings reported also include the time it takes for our clients to gather the evidence required.

As a result of these measures, our helpline answered 94% of calls within 60 seconds in February and March 2020. Between January and March 2020, we answered on average 37,000 calls per month. We show continuous improvement in all aspects of our services.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we kept our services running without interruption with call waiting times continuously improving across both the First Response Centre and our specialist advice line. We have put arrangements in place to protect the health of both our clients and our staff while maintaining availability of our services, which are needed now more than ever.

We are constantly working on improving our services so we can fulfil our contractual obligations, and, most importantly, support our clients during their journey through the asylum process in the best way possible.