‘Scandalous’ if watchdog role empty when Rwanda plan starts, says inspector

The chief inspector of borders and immigration has called it “scandalous” that his watchdog role could be left vacant while the Rwanda scheme is introduced.

It comes after the Times reported that his successor as the independent inspector may not be appointed for around six to nine months – a period in which the Home Office is hoping to get flights off the ground to Kigali.

It emerged last year David Neal’s three-year term would end next month, but in a break with his predecessors he will not be reappointed by the Government.

He was highly critical of the idea that ministers could be left without oversight of the asylum policy during such a key period.

“It’s scandalous that such a critical position at a time of such importance for the country is being left vacant, while the government is expected to implement one of the most controversial immigration policies of this era with the Rwanda policy,” he is quoted as saying by the paper.

Mr Neal earlier this month submitted a report on the Home Office and the social care visa for foreign workers, but it has not yet been published.

From March 11, overseas care workers will be stopped from bringing dependants.

The current shortage occupation list regime will also be scrapped, meaning employers will no longer be able to fill labour gaps by offering 20% below the going rate for jobs.

According to the paper, Mr Neal’s report raised concerns about the handling of the care visa system and examples of abuse.

A Government spokeswoman said: “Care workers make a vital contribution to society, but immigration is not the long-term answer to our social care needs.

“That is why measures due to be laid in Parliament will cut the rising numbers of visas granted to overseas care workers and address significant concerns about high levels of non-compliance, worker exploitation and abuse within the sector of overseas workers.

“It is also why the Government has announced that providers in England will only be able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.”

On Sunday, illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson said asylum seekers will be sent to Kigali “as soon as possible”, as peers in the House of Lords are set to this week again consider the proposed legislation.

“We are taking and introducing the most robust illegal migration legislation that’s ever been put before Parliament,” Mr Tomlinson told the Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme on Sky News.

“This is concrete evidence of what we’re doing.

Migrants on boat
A group of people thought to be migrants being brought in to Dover, Kent, at the end of January (PA)

“It’s got another committee day that it’s going through, and we’re making sure that we can bring in the Rwanda plan so that the flights can take off. That is my job. That’s my responsibility.”

No migrants who make unauthorised crossings have been removed because of the legal challenges that resulted in the Supreme Court finding the scheme unlawful.

But the Home Office has identified 33,085 people as eligible for removal since Mr Sunak’s Rwanda policy became law in July under the Illegal Migration Act.

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