MORE than 1,100 asylum seekers now live in Kirklees.

The figure, published in a factsheet drawn up the council's deputy chief executive, Rob Vincent, appears in a list of figures about refugees in the district.

Latest figures show there were 1,104 asylum seekers in Kirklees in February.

They comprised 398 single people and 212 families, making up about ¼% of Kirklees's 388,500 population.

The distribution of the factsheet to councillors and officials comes a month after Conservatives vowed to rip up the council's deal with the Government to take in asylum seekers and refugees.

And just last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair chaired a cross-party brainstorming session to draw up an action plan for closing loopholes in Britain's immigration controls.

The Downing Street summit was intended to reverse growing public disquiet about the volume of illegal immigrants into the UK.

But the Kirklees factsheet says that, within the European Union, the UK is 10th in the proportion of asylum seekers to overall population.

Most asylum seekers in Kirklees now come from Iran, Zimbabwe, Iraq and Congo. Nationally, the majority are from Somalia, China and Iran.

Most asylum seekers escape to countries that border their homeland. Taking the greatest numbers are Iran, Burundi and Guinea. Under 2% of the world's refugees and asylum seekers arrive in the UK.

Government figures for 2002 show that well over half of asylum applicants are allowed to stay in the UK.

All costs of asylum seekers are met by the Government. There is no impact on council tax and asylum seekers are not allowed to jump the housing queue.

In 2002, 185 council homes in Kirklees were let to refugees, representing 4% of the lettings total.

Provisional figures suggest that the number for 2003 was lower.

Councils receive extra cash from the Government to provide housing for asylum seekers.

In Kirklees, housing is often hard-to-let property.

Private companies may also have contracts to house asylum seekers.

Once accepted as a refugee, a person must find their own housing or go on a council waiting list.

Asylum seekers can expect up to 70% of income support. If full refugee status is granted, they may apply for backdated benefits.

* Under international law, anyone is allowed to ask for sanctuary in another country if they suffer persecution.

* An asylum seeker is someone who has submitted an application for asylum to the UK authorities and is still awaiting a decision.

* An asylum seeker can only become an illegal immigrant if he or she remains in the UK after having failed to respond to a removal notice.

* A refugee is someone who has had their application approved.