A new report by a group of influential MPs has slammed a “chaotic summer of immigration measures”.
The Home Affairs Committee has today published its final report on the work of the UK Border Agency which, once again, exposes major failings by both the Home Office and the now defunct UKBA, and raises the concern that the abolition of the UKBA in 2013 has done little to improve performance.
The report also raises deep concerns about many of the measures in the Government’s new Immigration Bill, echoing the concerns raised by the Refugee Council that plans to charge migrants for access to healthcare and for landlords to be forced to check people’s immigration status could lead to people being wrongfully denied access to vital healthcare and housing.
In the report, MPs criticise the continuing failure of the Agency and then, following its abolition, the Home Office, to get to grips with the backlog of unresolved asylum and immigration cases, suggesting that if the backlogs continue “there will be scepticism whether the administrative change from UKBA into the present arrangement will make any difference” and commenting that “nobody in the Home Office should be under any illusion that the re-organisation will in and of itself deliver service improvements”.
Chief Executive of the Refugee Council Maurice Wren said: “The findings of this report lay bare the essential dysfunctionality of the UK asylum system and exposes the fact that the problems are deep seated and cultural, not just administrative.
“Backlogs benefit no-one, least of all people seeking safety from persecution, yet once again we discover that too many asylum seekers have been left living in a limbo of poverty while waiting for decisions on their cases. We say that the Home Office is in a hole and must stop digging. The answer is to invest in efficiency and quality at the start of the decision making process.
“We’re encouraged that the Committee has highlighted our concerns about the new Immigration Bill. We’re extremely alarmed by the proposed new obligations on landlords and NHS staff to check people’s immigration status. Such measures are simply unworkable and will undoubtedly penalise asylum seekers and refugees who have a legal right to live in the UK.
“The key to making the system work is to focus on quality. Refugees and asylum seekers have fled persecution and come to the UK seeking safety. The Government must ensure they are properly protected by ensuring ease of access to vital public services and a fair and efficient asylum system.”