Latest Public Sector News

27.03.13

UK Border Agency to be abolished – May

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be abolished, the home secretary has announced.

The news follows a report by the Commons home affairs select committee, which accused Lin Homer, of “catastrophic leadership failure” while she was chief executive at the organisation.

Theresa May described it as “a troubled organisation … its performance was not good enough”.

She identified four main points of failure at the UKBA; its size, lack of transparency, IT systems and policy and legal framework, and said that it would be brought back within the Home Office.

May told the Commons: “UKBA was given agency status in order to keep its work at an arm's length from ministers. That was wrong. It created a closed, secretive and defensive culture. The new entities will not have agency status and will sit in the Home Office, reporting to ministers.

“The agency is often caught up a vicious cycle of complex law and poor enforcement of its own policies, which makes it harder to remove people who are here illegally.”

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the select committee, congratulated May for “delivering the lethal injection” to the UKBA.

He said: “She has done the right thing in putting UKBA out of its misery. The organisation is not fit for purpose. However, this cannot be an excuse not to clear the backlogs, which stand at a third of a million cases. Ministers are now in the front line.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “We would have some sympathy with your proposals but the trouble with the proposals is you are simply refusing to recognise problems around enforcement and effectiveness at UKBA have got worse and not better on your watch.

“Enforcement has got worse, delays have got worse, 50% fewer people are being refused entry at ports and borders and you said the number of illegal immigrants removed does not keep up with the number here illegally – that's because you're letting rather more of them in.”

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