Private firms will be awarded contracts worth £28 million to deport asylum seekers who arrive in the UK without a visa.
A report published by Politico revealed that the Home Office will partner with housing, legal, medical and transport services to reintegrate illegal immigrants back in their home nation.
Immigrant advocacy groups have labelled the plans to outsource removals to private companies as ‘dangerous’.
Information published on the UK government’s official website stated that the Home Office has set aside £28 million to provide ‘reintegration services for people returning from the UK to their country of origin’.
The government’s removal program is expected to be operational for three years from April 2021 to April 2024. According to the government, some people may have to be forced to leave the UK if they do not leave voluntarily.
It is expected that the funding which has been set aside will cover the cost of airport pickups on arrival in the UK, medical support, cash handouts, onward travel assistance and any reintegration counselling.
The money will also be used to provide migrants with access to education, job search services, family tracing and legal support.
The Contractor Bids
At the time of writing, the Home Office is yet to issue a request for formal contractor bids. Legal policy director, Chai Patel, warned the government against offloading its legal responsibilities to private companies.
Chai Patel said:
“Outsourcing the safety of migrants to private companies is no way to run a safe UK immigration system. Time and time again we see appalling abuse, neglect and even deaths of people at the hands of corporations that put profits before human lives.”
Patel went on to say:
“The government must be directly accountable for the safety of the people it deports and detains.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said:
“The UK already provides support for some people returning, including on a voluntary basis. We are exploring a number of options for how we provide such assistance in the future.”
They went on to say:
“These options will help those returning to re-establish their lives in their countries of origin, with the ultimate aim of helping to prevent illegal migration to the UK.”
Investigations into Outsourcing
In December 2019, the Home Office was investigated over outsourcing law breaches following a raft of complaints.
VFS Global was contracted by the government to manage overseas visa processes. Thousands of complaints were received, leaving the Home Office facing an investigation by the complaints watchdog.
The parliamentary ombudsman escalated a complaint regarding misconduct by VFS Global following the case of an Australian man who was given incorrect instructions on how to submit his UK visa application.
A formal investigation was carried out after the Home Office refused to voluntarily cooperate with requests for information. A number of lawyers heavily criticised VFS Global’s handling of the case and also criticised the Home Office for abandoning accountability for the poor service provided by the Dubai-based outsourcing firm.
The subcontracting agreement between the Home Office and VFS Global was signed back in 2014. Since then, the outsourcing firm has been swamped with numerous complaints and has been accused of exploiting vulnerable UK visa applicants for profit.
It is one of many outsourcing firms used by the Home Office to come under criticism.
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