MPs say UK immigration backlog rose by 180,000 in a year

The total number of cases in the UK's immigration backlog rose by 190,000 in the last three months of 2012 to over 502,000 cases according to the House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee (HAC).

The figure, the HAC says, includes all outstanding immigration cases. It said that the rise was accounted for not by a sudden rash of new applications but because the new acting head of immigration at the Home Office, Sarah Rapson, had told MPs about a new collection of cases known as the 'temporary and permanent migration pool' in June.

The MPs say that they must be given further information about the cases in the temporary and permanent migration pool. They say that they have no information as to what kind of cases make up the backlog or about how long they have been outstanding.

The HAC findings are published in a report entitled The Work of the UK Border Agency (October-December 2012) which was issued on 13th July 2013. The UKBA has since been abolished. In March 2013, Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons that it was 'not good enough'.

UKBA abolished and split in two

The UKBA's functions were taken over by the Home Office and placed in two directorates; one to deal with visa, asylum and citizenship applications, which is headed by Ms Rapson, and the other to deal with immigration enforcement.

The report also says that there are currently 190,000 cases in the Migration Refusals Pool, a collection of applications, largely for asylum or citizenship, where the application has been refused but no action has been taken to remove the applicant from the country, usually because the UKBA did not know where the applicant was.

The Home Office is said to dispute the MPs' figures. At her first appearance before the committee in June, Ms Rapson spent some time trying to persuade the MPs that some cases that were currently considered to be 'backlog cases' should not be considered to be so because they were being dealt with within a reasonable time frame.

Ms Rapson sought to persuade committee chairman Keith Vaz that only cases that were not dealt with within the Home Office's service standard timetable should be considered to be part of any backlog. Mr Vaz accused her of trying to 'define away' the backlog and refused to discuss the issue.

Head of failed agency paid more than Prime Minister

The Committee also raised concerns that the former head of the agency, Rob Whiteman, continues to be paid £175,000 per year despite the fact that the agency he ran has been abolished and he is now responsible only for implementing an IT upgrade. The report points out that this is £32,500 a year more than the Prime Minister.

The appointment of new directors of the agencies that have replaced the UKBA means that the cost of senior management has risen to over £700,000 a year despite continued poor performance since the UKBA was originally founded in 2008.

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