The number of people receiving asylum, resettlement and other types of vacation protection in the UK fell by more than half in March 2021, figures show.
A total of 8,640 people were protected, a decrease of 58% compared to 20,331 in the previous year.
This is the lowest number in twelve months since September 2014.
The Home Office said the decline reflects the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in fewer decisions on asylum applications as well as a pause in resettlement.
A sharp drop in air passengers is also likely to have reduced the number of people traveling to asylum on this route, which could have an impact on the number of decisions taken in such cases.
All UK resettlement activities were suspended between March and November 2020, which resulted in a 93% decrease in the number of resettlement grants from 4,968 in 2019/20 to just 353 in 2020/21.
The grants following an asylum application had increased in each twelve-month period from June 2018 (8,616) to March 2020 (15,363).
Since then, however, the number has steadily decreased. By March 2021, 8,287 applications had been submitted – a decrease of 46% compared to the previous year.
In the UK there were 26,903 asylum applications (related to 32,411 people) in 2020/21, a decrease of almost a quarter (24%) compared to the previous year.
This included 2,044 applications from unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, which corresponds to a decrease of 42% compared to the previous year.