April 2019: Chief Inspector’s report on HO charging for services.

Publishing the report, David Bolt said:

[…] However, I am more concerned about the other “not accepted” recommendation, in particular in relation to the refunding of the “benefits” element of fees, which in the case of nationality and settlement applications are high. The Home Office has said that it will “carefully consider” my recommendations “in the context of the next Spending Review”. I am disappointed that the Home Office does not recognise that this is a question of basic fairness, which should not have to wait on discussions with the Treasury about the department’s future funding.

‘However, as the Chief Inspector reports, the Home Office’s Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS) is a ÂŁ2+ billion, complex “operation” and “the Home Office is not entirely free to act as it might wish when looking at charging for its functions”. It operates within the framework agreed with Parliament and set out in primary legislation in the Immigration Act 2014, and the financial limits and rules set by HM Treasury, and has to accommodate the wider objectives of other government departments and Ministers alongside its own. It also needs the support of Parliament for any changes requiring secondary legislation, such as the annual revision of its fees. And it needs to balance fairness to the applicant in setting fees and charges for the benefits
they accrue, with fairness to the taxpayer regarding the contribution they pay for an effective Borders, Immigration and Citizenship system.

The ICIBI notes the progress that the Home Office has made towards ‘self-funding’ as agreed as part of the 2015 Spending Review. We will be reviewing this ambition in the context of the 2019 Comprehensive Spending Review and expect there to be greater linkage to three key principles
in the setting of all our fees– providing funding stability, instilling fairness throughout the system, and promoting prosperity and UK interests.’

See other responses here: https://www.qarn.org.uk/homepage/vulnerable-people-paying-for-immigration-system/