Savage cuts hit Border Agency amid immigration outcry

By Georgie Keate

Poor leadership and communication led to badly timetabled cuts at the Border Agency, a report claimed today.

The Border Agency (UKBA) has not only overspent by £28 million this year, but it has also laid off over 2,000 staff and is failing to cope with unpredictable immigration levels.

 "Loss of focus, poor governance and a tendency towards optimism bias in planning, delivery and reporting, have contributed to the current problems," the report said.

The agency planned to cut costs by £350 million by 2015 by dismissing 4,500 staff but did not assessed how this might affect performance levels.

"The UK Border Agency and the Border Force deserve credit for taking on an ambitious programme of change, but both organisations face a steep climb to ensure this work delivers both value for money and a good service," said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

The main problem is the failure to implement the Immigration Case Work IT system, which was very costly and is also a year behind schedule.

"The result of this disconnect was, in some places, a dip in performance and the need to hire new staff or increase overtime," the report found.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We're under no illusions about the scale of the challenge in transforming the UK Border Agency and Border Force and we have already saved huge sums of taxpayers' money, overhauled our business planning and improved performance in key areas of our work."

Changes to the UKBA were made in February after it was revealed thousands of people were entering the country unchecked.