The Home Secretary has laid a report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration on two of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ measures in Parliament.
The report examines the steps taken as a result of the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016 to deny public and private services and benefits to individuals who have no legal right to be in the UK, focusing on UK driving licences and bank and building society current accounts since these measures built on pre-existing arrangements and are therefore most mature.
The driving licence and bank and building society measures, like the other ‘hostile environment’ measures, rely on partnership working between the Home Office and in this case the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Cifas respectively. The inspection found that these partnerships worked well. However, the Home Office needed to ensure that sufficient attention and effort is put into improving the arrangements for data sharing, for assuring data quality, and for processing matches to avoid wrong decisions because of errors over an individual’s immigration status. The inspection found that the Home Office failed to appreciate the potential impact of such wrong decisions on those affected, and relied too heavily on avenues of redress.
The Independent Chief Inspector also found that the Home Office needed to give greater thought to the evaluation of its ‘hostile environment’ measures, both the individual measures and the overall ‘package’, not least to justify the cost and effort required of the Home Office and from others to deliver them.