Home > Facts & Figures > Impact of Spending Cuts on UK Immigration Services

Impact of Spending Cuts on UK Immigration Services

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Immigration Uk Budget Spending Cuts

Concerns have been raised that the coalition government’s spending cuts could have a negative impact on the ability of the immigration services to protect and regulate the UK’s borders.

Proposed Cuts to the UK Border Agency’s Workforce

    According to the coalition government’s October 2010 austerity proposals, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) budget will be severely reduced as part of an overall restructuring of the Home Office. Currently, the UKBA:
  • processes visa applications;
  • enforces immigration rules; and,
  • controls and protects the UK’s borders.
About 5000 jobs are due to be eliminated over the next four years at the UKBA, in addition to the 1700 redundancies which were scheduled for 2010. These cuts would reduce the UKBA’s workforce of 24,000 by 20%. This will inevitably have a direct impact on ordinary travellers as well as migrants and refugees.

Saving Costs on Border Controls

As part of the cost-cutting exercise the coalition government proposes to relinquish continental border controls to the French. This would end the dual immigration system currently in operation at Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk and the Channel Tunnel - where UK immigration officers operate national security and immigration checks. A similar proposal has been outlined for Eurostar immigration controls in Paris. This plan could leave French immigration officials in sole control of cross-Channel security, reversing the controls introduced in 2004 by the previous government.

There are concerns about the Agency’s ongoing ability to enforce UK immigration law if subjected to these cuts. The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) denounced the proposals, warning that the cuts would lead to more illegal immigration to the UK. Lin Homer, chief executive of the UKBA, recently announced that Britain had a higher number of asylum seekers in 2010 and implied that the Agency’s resources were already overstretched. It has been argued that these spending cuts could be a false economy as the UK will consequently be faced with additional costs due to the extra migrants.

New Fees for UK Immigration Appeals

Immigrants to the UK already pay application fees for visas and permits. The Home Office reports that the UKBA is currently earning about £750 million each year from visa applicants. However, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says that it costs the country over £115 million a year to run the immigration appeals system, which does not currently charge a fee for appeals.

To address these costs, the MoJ recently announced that immigrants and asylum seekers will now have to pay for appeals against some immigration and asylum decisions. Fees are due to apply to appeals against refusals to grant leave to remain, leave to enter, or to vary the conditions on leave to remain in the UK. Fees are expected to range from £60 to £250. It has been claimed that this will cover about 25% of the cost of running the immigration appeals system. Some applicants will be exempted from having to pay the fees – including those who qualify for legal aid or asylum support.

However, the legal aid budget has also been slashed as part of the government’s austerity budget. Therefore, it could be more difficult for many of the most vulnerable migrants, asylum seekers and refugees to qualify for assistance. The situation may have been compounded by the recent closure of a charity which offered advice and assistance to refugees and migrants.

A spokeswoman for an immigrant and refugee welfare charity has questioned the need to impose extra costs on vulnerable people who may be facing issues of life and death. She argued that immigrants already contribute more – through taxation, fees, etc. – to the public purse than they take from it. The spokeswoman also pointed to internal issues within the UKBA as contributing to the cost of running the immigration appeals system.

Spending Cuts and Foreign Students

In a bid to cut the risks of illegal immigration and reduce processing costs, the government is considering plans to cut back on overseas student visas by around 87,000. These cuts may be applied particularly to student visa applicants intending to study courses "at below degree level". The UK’s home secretary, Theresa May, has claimed that abuse of the student visa system is common with this type of application.

The UKBA rates education and training providers according to their track record for monitoring overseas students. The burden of compiling evidence and filling out paperwork in order to achieve ‘Highly Trusted’ sponsor status falls upon colleges. Spending time and money fulfilling these obligations may not be an option for some educational organisations, which may also be facing stringent budget cuts.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: Marrying a UK Citizen
    kaz - Your Question:I recently got married, I am a British Citizen and my wife has a Pakistani passport but has been living in the UK for…
    24 May 2018
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: UK Policies on Illegal Immigrants
    Harry - Your Question:I was an overstayer in uk by the year of 2016. So I caught by home office and meant leave the country…
    24 May 2018
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers
    Manu - Your Question:Hi, I was overstayed in uk. It was before 2010. I left uk sept 2010 voluntary. I gone to…
    24 May 2018
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: Marrying a UK Citizen
    G - Your Question:As previously asked with no response returned:Hi, I am a male British citizen currently completing my studies to become a…
    24 May 2018
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: Marrying a UK Resident
    Lauren Calvert - Your Question:I am a British citizen and am engaged to an Ivorian man he has recently served a 12 month sentence and is…
    24 May 2018
  • TJ.
    Re: Would I Be Able to Apply For an Irish Passport?
    @Flo - You are not entitled to an Irish passport. Northern Ireland is part of the UK and not part of the…
    24 May 2018
  • TJ.
    Re: Applying for UK Residency
    @AGRO - You are being assessed as an EU national applying for citizenship. In that case your marriage to a British citizen is irrelevant.
    24 May 2018
  • TJ.
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    @Ireola - Your can apply for a British passport for your child as long as you are recognized as the father and the child was…
    24 May 2018
  • Manu
    Re: UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers
    Hi, i was overstayed in uk . It was before 2010. I left uk sept 2010 voluntary. I gone to india on my own…
    23 May 2018
  • Ireola
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    I have a Permanent resident permit. A tier 4 student just had a baby for me and we both living happily but not legally…
    23 May 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutImmigration website. Please read our Disclaimer.