19 September 2012

Private firm drafted in to tackle UK immigration backlog

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Services company Capita has been contracted by the Government to find almost 175,000 people who have either overstayed their UK visa or entered the country illegally.

UK immigration

Services firm Capita has been awarded the £40 million, four year UK immigration contract.

Reports of the extensive UK immgiration backlog first emerged in July when it was discovered by Chief Inspector to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) John Vine during inspection. The backlog, which has been labelled the 'migration refusal pool' originally stood at 150,000 but estimates now put the number at 174,000.

The vast majority of the people in pool are those who have been denied permission to remain in the country through a number of different routes and have since gone missing.

The backlog's magnitude was embarassing to the Government and then-Immigration Minister Damian Green promised that the backlog would be dealt with.

The task of finding the 174,000 people, determining their legal immigration status and offering advice how best to rectify the situation, although they will not have the power to deport people has been given to Capita, a private services firm in a £40 million, four year contract.

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee said Capita would be 'laughing all the way to the bank' after few details were given regarding targets and expectations. However, Capita chief executive Rob Whiteman disputed Mr Vaz's claim.

"Capita will be paid for the number of people they make contact with, and leave, and that's purely on a payment by results basis," said Mr Whiteman.

"If nobody leaves because they make contact with them, nobody will get paid."

Capita beat out competitor Serco to the contract but will follow a model used by its competitor in a pilot scheme. Of all the overstayers Serco contacted, 20% left the country.

The awarding of such a contract to a private company has angered some, including Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant who criticised the lack of details.

"UK Border Agency has revealed that Capita will get £40m from the taxpayer if meets its targets, but UKBA doesn't seem to have any idea of what would constitute a success," said Mr Bryant.

"The details of the contract and the tender process should be as transparent as possible; and at the very least, the chief executive of the UK Border Agency should be in a position to define what exactly a successful programme by Capita would look like."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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