A government spending watchdog has revealed that the UK Border Agency has cut 1,000 more jobs than it said it would. The National Audit Office said that even though the organisation was having trouble with an automated immigration system it had decided to go ahead with the staffing cuts.
This has resulted in more workers being brought in to cope with passengers crossing the border into the UK. In April last year the number of people working for the Border Agency stood at 22,580. By April this year that figure dropped to 20,469.
The audit office explained that the automated system which was designed to reduce the workload for staff had now exceeded its £385 million budget and was a year behind schedule. The report said that this had resulted in performance dipping in some areas which had necessitated bringing in extra staff and paying more overtime.
Shadow immigration minister for Labour, Chris Bryant, said it was unacceptable that continuing cuts were leading to support staff being drafted in at airports including Stansted and Heathrow. He added that in many cases these workers were having transport costs paid for them, being paid overtime, being given living allowances and being put up in expensive hotels.
He has called on Home Secretary Theresa May to justify this and to explain to taxpayers why they are picking up the bill. A spokesman for the Home Office said that although there were still challenges ahead, performance was already being improved and huge sums of public money saved.