Home Office should be stripped of immigration policy post-Brexit, report argues

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Ministers must consider removing the immigration policy from the jurisdiction of the Home Office post-Brexit after a series of high-profile failures, argues a new report.

Researchers at the Institute for Government (IfG) say this is down to “unrealistic” migration trends, the Windrush scandal and outrage over DNA tests and that the governments’ immigration policy is “lurching from crisis to crisis.”

The IfG suggested a possible formation of a separate government department or public body to handle immigration reforms after the UK exits the EU.

It urges that the Home Office needs to drastically reform their approach or the government will face an even bigger disaster than Windrush in the future, with an EU settlement scheme that allows 3.5 million citizens to be eligible for settled status in post-Brexit Britain.

The report states that with the current situation, “the Home Office is not ready or able to meet the Brexit challenge on immigration”.

It went on to explain that the government must consider alternatives, including whether Whitehall requires a separate immigration department or if a public body needs creating to manage elements of the system, thus keeping the front line at “arm’s length from ministers.”

It suggested that, as part of a wider review of government functions post-Brexit, the Cabinet Secretary should look at whether the Home Office remains the correct place for immigration policy.

Associate director at the IfG, Joe Owen, said: “As we end free movement from the EU, our migration policy must address the needs of the country but also the public confidence challenge.

“Ministers need to consider whether the Home Office is the right permanent home for a migration policy that needs to serve labour market needs, be fair and efficient in dealing with applicants, and provide the necessary degree of assurance to the wider public.”

The report went on to state that the Conservative government has lacked a detailed immigration policy for more than a decade since before its election in 2010.

The researchers claimed that the mere desire to reduce immigration, expressed in the form of an aspirational target and a different approach to enforcement, does not count as an effective strategy.

The report maintains that the government does not have the power to deliver the policy to lower net migration to the tens of thousands and that it is nothing more than a “political tactic” that has yet to be achieved by ministers.

Stephen Hall, chief executive of Refugee Action Charity responded to the report, stating that Home Office failures are “literally a matter of life and death for people seeking asylum in the UK” arguing that the report details the gravity of these problems and a clear way forward.

Stephen Hall states that the home secretary “must act now, setting clear short and longer-term objectives for the department and UK immigration policy.”

A spokesperson from the Home Office said that the government has already published a clear vision for immigration through the white paper.

“Our proposals would mean we have a single, skills-based immigration system that will allow us to attract the talented workers so that the UK prospers, but also delivers on the referendum result, ends free movement and improves border security.”

The spokesperson went on to add that the government is firmly determined to “right the wrongs” of those experienced by the Windrush generation.

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