Budget for enforcing immigration rules falls £40million in three years

All at sea: Budget for enforcing immigration rules falls £40million in three years as number of illegal entries soars

  • Spending on immigration enforcement fell more than £40m in last three years
  • Home Office budgets showed 2020-21 spending was down £462m from 2018-19
  • The amount of enforcement agency staff fell by 266 to 4,855 in the same period
  • But people arriving illegally in UK surged from 13,000 in 2018 to 16,500 in 2020

Spending on immigration enforcement fell more than £40million in the past three years despite soaring numbers of illegal entries to Britain, according to a report.

Migration Watch UK said analysis of Home Office budgets showed expenditure of £420million in 2020-21 was down from £462million in 2018-19. 

The number of enforcement agency staff, who deal with illegal entrants, fell by 266 to 4,855 during the same period.

The number of people arriving illegally surged from 13,000 in 2018 to 16,500 in 2020. 

Analysis of Home Office budgets showed spending of £420million in 2020-21 was down from £462million in 2018-19. Pictured: Group of migrants arriving in Dover, Kent, on September 26

This year’s total will be even higher, with more than 17,000 arriving by boat across the Channel alone since January, against 8,410 last year. 

Meanwhile, spending on UK Border Force rose by £140million to £705million, the report said.

Migration Watch chairman Alp Mehmet said the figures showed the Government’s priorities had become ‘skewed’ and sparked concerns ‘that the Channel crisis has led to direction of resources away from other vital enforcement tasks’.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government is fully committed to tackling illegal immigration… Our New Plan for Immigration provides the only long-term solution to fix the broken asylum system.’ 

The drop in spending comes despite the number of people arriving illegally surging from 13,000 in 2018 to 16,500 in 2020. Pictured: Border Force collect migrants on July 22

Mr Mehmet said: ‘Even as illegal entries rose from year to year, there has been a drop in spending and staffing numbers for the very department tasked with enforcing the law.

‘Especially in light of the worsening chaos in the Channel, there needs to be a huge boost in resources for this task.’

A Migration Watch spokesman added: ‘While the boost in Border Force resources is welcome, the independent borders watchdog reported in late 2020 that Border Force staff believed they were being misused as a ‘taxi service’ into the UK by those attempting to cross in small boats and the people smugglers that organise such trips.

‘The fall in immigration enforcement spending is concerning given that it forms a major part of the government’s new plan – currently before Parliament – to tackle problems such as absconding and increase the removals of those who may pose a risk to the public.’

He added: ‘There are concerns that the worsening Channel crisis has led to direction of resources away from other vital enforcement tasks.’

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