It will take 37 years to clear backlog at immigration service

The backlog of cases at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has now hit a half a million people, a new report by the Home Affairs Committee shows.

Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee said: “This could fill Wembley Stadium to capacity six times over.”

Noting that the backlog has risen by 56% in just three months, Mr. Keith said: “At the current rate it will take 37 years to clear and the Home Office cannot confirm that this is the last of the backlogs.”

The Committee said it was alarmed to discover in the evidence session with Sarah Rapson, Director General of the UK Visas and Immigration section, a further backlog of 190,000 cases in the temporary and permanent migration pool that were never revealed to the Committee before. The total figure for the number of cases in the backlog has reached over half a million (502,462).

“Whilst we welcome this admission from Ms Rapson and hope she is more forthcoming with this Committee then her predecessor, it is simply unacceptable that new backlogs are routinely revealed in Committee evidence sessions,” the Committee said.

Many of the UKBA’s problems predate its establishment, the Committee said, and asked ministers to now explain how those problems will not outlive its demise.

“If we are to see a shift in culture the new organisational structure and management must be complemented by the ability for a wholesale restructuring of the employees of the organisation. The newly appointed Directors General must have the ability and resources necessary to implement this change. The Home Office should outline exactly how they propose to bring about this change in culture,” the Committee said.

On 11th June 2013, when the Committee asked Ms Rapson if she thought the Immigration Service would ever be fixed she said: “I don’t think so”. Her revelation surprised the Committee.

“Although we welcome Ms Rapson’s honesty, the Committee are concerned that the person tasked with ‘fixing’ the agency does not think the job will ever be complete. We are concerned this is an admission that Ms Rapson does not have the resources necessary to ‘fix’ the service. The Home Office should work to reveal the full scale of the backlog so that it is able to apportion the funds necessary to clear the backlog,” said the Committee.

The Committee recommended that no more bonuses should be paid to any senior management at the Home Office until the backlogs are cleared.
Mr. Vaz said: “In evidence the Committee were told the immigration service would never be fixed. This is astonishing since reducing immigration is a priority of this Government. What the immigration service needs desperately is stability, the resources necessary to clear the backlogs and a wholesale change in culture.”

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