MPs slam Home Office immigration policies

An all-party committee of MPs has accused the Home Office in London of having little idea of how the UK's immigration policies impact on “both the illegal and legitimate migrant populations”.

A new report reveals a drop in applications from non-EU skilled workers to the UK - and the implications. 
In a scathing report published on Friday, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) accused the Home Office of adopting immigration policies that appeared to be formulated on the basis of “anecdote, assumption and prejudice”.

UK Home Office: unprepared for the impact of Brexit on immigration

It also warned the Home Office was "unprepared for the challenges the UK's exit from the EU presents to its immigration enforcement operations". It said the department had been unable to tell the committee's inquiry over the summer whether or not it had even begun discussions with EU counterparts on international operations.The report said the committee not convinced the Home Office was "sufficiently prepared" to properly safeguard the existing, legal immigrant population in the UK, while also implementing the new immigration system due to come into force on January 1, as well as responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.According to the PAC, the department showed “far too little concern” over the damage caused by its failures to both the illegal and legal migrant populations in the UK. And it said the department did not know what was achieved by the £400 million spent each year by its Immigration Enforcement Directorate.

UK Home Office: "no inclination to learn from its numerous mistakes"

Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, said, "The Home Office has frighteningly little grasp of the impact of its activities in managing immigration."It shows no inclination to learn from its numerous mistakes across a swathe of immigration activities - even when it fully accepts that it has made serious errors."It accepts the wreckage that its ignorance and the culture it has fostered caused in the Windrush scandal (which led to the deportation to the West Indies of migrants legally in the country) but the evidence we saw shows too little intent to change, and inspires no confidence that the next such scandal isn't right around the corner."

Home Office: significant lack of diversity at senior levels

The committee also accused the Home Office of having a significant lack of diversity at senior levels, which had created blind spots in the department.“Only one member of its executive committee came from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background. The department described the benefits of greater diversity at senior levels for its decision-making, leadership and governance, but acknowledged diversity as being its biggest issue,” the report said.Ms Hillier added, “Fifteen years after the-then Home Secretary declared the UK’s immigration system 'not fit for purpose', it is time for transformation of the Immigration Enforcement Directorate into a data-led organisation. Within six months of this report we expect a detailed plan, with set priorities and deadlines, for how the Home Office is going to make this transformation.”

The UK Home Office responds to the report

Responding to the report, a Home Office spokesman said, "We have developed a balanced and evidence-based approach to maintaining a fair immigration system."Since 2010, we have removed more than 53,000 foreign national offenders and more than 133,000 people as enforced removals."On a daily basis we continue to tackle those who fail to comply with our immigration laws and abuse our hospitality by committing serious, violent and persistent crimes, with immigration enforcement continually becoming more efficient."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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