Immigration system ‘too understaffed’ to deal with Brexit

15 Feb 18

Immigration processes are currently too under-staffed and under-resourced to deal with the demands of Brexit, the home affairs committee has found.

Although the Home Office is recruiting more staff, the select committee report claimed “planned recruitment appears insufficient in scale to alleviate existing burdens” let alone “the increased workload and challenge that Brexit will bring”.

The commitee recommended, in the report released yesterday, that the Home Office take “rapid action” to strengthen the current immigration system in preparation for March 2019 – the date when Britain is due to leave the European Union.

As a result of a lack of staff,  the home affairs select committee found that immigration directorates have incurred high turnover rates as well as poor decision making.

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said PCS members in the Home Office were “often diverted at short notice from one job to another”.

“And if you think about the changes we could see after 2019, we are totally unprepared.” 

The committee, chaired by Yvette Cooper, was also critical of the delay in the publishing of a white paper outlining future immigration policy, which was initially scheduled to be published in autumn 2017.

Conclusions from the report suggest that the delay has caused “anxiety for EU citizens in the UK, uncertainty for UK businesses, and concern in Parliament about the consistency with which the government is approaching post-Brexit immigration policy.”

The effect on business was reinforced by Nadra Ahmed, covener of the umbrella-group the Cavendish Coalition, said: “This report highlights the huge challenges faced by UK employers in securing their current and future workforce during a period of great uncertainty.”

In particular, she stressed the impact it was having on health and social care systems which she explained were under “intolerable pressure”. She added: “We simply cannot afford to lose the talented EU staff we currently employ.”

But a Home Office spokesperson said: “It is wrong to say that there is uncertainty for EU citizens living in the UK.

“The agreement reached with the EU in December safeguards their rights and enables them to stay in the UK by applying for settled status.”

The home affairs select committee recommended that the government needed to provide greater transparency about its plans for a post-Brexit Britain so that people could plan for the future.

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