The UK Border Agency is to be broken up and brought directly under Ministerial control for the first time in five years to end its “closed, secretive and defensive culture”, Theresa May said yesterday.
The Home Secretary said UKBA will be split into an immigration and visa service and a law enforcement organisation.
After a raft of damning inspections and reports, the Agency, which has a regional base in Leeds, will return to Home Office supervision rather than running at arm’s length under the control of a chief executive.
But in a leaked memo, the head of the Home Office, permanent secretary Mark Sedwill, told staff they will “still be doing the same job” despite new reforms.
Despite Opposition criticism, Mrs May insisted the Government was “getting to grips” with the system it had inherited and told MPs the changes would give the organisation a “clearer focus” and make it easier for staff to do their jobs.
The move comes after a group of MPs warned it would take the UKBA 24 years to clear a backlog of asylum and immigration cases the size of Iceland’s population.
The Home Affairs Select committee launched a scathing attack on former UKBA chief Lin Homer, now the head of Britain’s tax office, for her “catastrophic leadership failure”.
Mrs May also ordered an overhaul of the agency’s “inadequate” IT systems and brought forward plans for an Immigration Bill to make it easier to remove illegal immigrants.
Last year, the UK Border Force, which is responsible for frontline controls at air, sea and rail ports, was also hived off.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “We have called for action to improve enforcement and effectiveness of the system, but simply cutting and splitting the organisation again and again aren’t enough.”